The Malta Independent 21 April 2024, Sunday
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TMID Editorial: PBS is failing the nation

Wednesday, 28 February 2024, 10:48 Last update: about 3 months ago

Now we have it black on white from the Speaker of the House of Representatives too.

PBS and its news bulletin were not fair with the Opposition Leader in its report about his parliamentary speech on the Climate Authority.

The national broadcasting station misrepresented what Bernard Grech said, broadcating a report which was opposite to what Grech had actually said in the House. The Speaker felt compelled to order PBS to rectify the report.

PBS has been labelled Super One 2 not without a reason. The way the station is used as a propaganda machine for the government has reached new proportions but, unlike One, which is PL-owned, PBS is a national station which is paid for from the public’s taxes.

This is happening not only in news reports, but also on talk-shows and so-called magazine programmes, which often are a platform for subtle publicity for what the government is doing.

But let’s stick to the news as presented by PBS – and by this we do not only mean the 8pm bulletin, which is the most watched programme in Malta, but also other news-in-brief editions as well as the TVM website.

The Nationalist Party on Monday presented statistics which clearly show how news is being manipulated by PBS in favour of the government. PBS itself has presented figures which show that for each time that a PN official has had a sound-on-tape presence on the news bulletin, the Labour government and party have had 13 such occasions.

Last November, during which time there was so much hype about the budget for 2024 which had been presented on 30 October, the PL had 63 such appearances against the PN’s one – yes, one, and this was the time when Grech was delivering his reply to the budget presentation.

It is disgusting that PBS treats its viewers in the way it does. Irrespective of whoever it is at the helm of the TVM newsroom, it is clear that the station is being led by Castille. As Claudette Buttigieg pointed out in last Monday’s press conference, this is a total disservice to the public.

There was a time, in the 1980s, when the imbalance on what was then known as Xandir Malta was such that the name of the Opposition Leader, Eddie Fenech Adami, was not mentioned. Nowadays, there have been occasions when PN representatives are not named too, even when they organise conferences such as the one on social justice a few days ago – the event was organised by PN MP Ivan Bartolo but, although the conference was covered by PBS, Bartolo’s name was not referred to.

The way news is being manipulated on PBS to put the Labour government in good light while diminishing whatever the PN does is unacceptable. That, also, PN-related items are relegated towards the end of the bulletin, when people’s attention span would have dwindled, is another way to belittle what the Opposition is doing.

Apart from being likened to the Labour Party’s own media, PBS can also be described as a station that closely resembles others in authoritative states where whatever the government does is inflated and whatever the Opposition does (if an Opposition exists) is minimised.

PBS is failing the nation when it resorts to such tactics.

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