“The party media do not exist to encourage and bolster pluralism. They are, by definition and increasingly in practice, the opposite of what pluralism should mean in journalistic terms.”
No, this isn’t a quote from Lovin Malta’s upcoming historic court case, but from an article written by the late former PL Finance Minister Lino Spiteri almost 20 years ago.
Writing in Times of Malta in 2002, Spiteri argued that media must be open to all views, regardless of whether their owners agree with them or not, if they are to be considered pluralistic.
“It is an instrument of diversity, a forum for differing and often contrasting opinions. Any medium belonging to a party, any party, is the perfect enemy of such openness of diversity,” he said.
Spiteri described as “grim practicality” the broadcasting law Lovin Malta is challenging which says the Broadcasting Authority should regulate balance across all private TV stations as a whole, allowing the receptive propaganda aired by ONE and NET to cancel each other out.
“Overall balance is a very abstract concept. To stay anchored to sense what is required is a basic ethical approach to the facts. Never mind opinions biased to their core on the party media, and rarely walking straight and sober on the rest of the spectrum.”
“At the very least, as a basic requirement, facts ought to be reported factually. Its an integral part of good journalism that a medium should seek the unexpected angle to lead with. But the body of facts should remain wholesome, whatever the medium reporting it.”
“Very pathetically obviously, it does not. The party media delight in denigrating their own captive audience by politicising even that key aspect of journalism, reporting the facts. They have no qualms, no compunction about masking the facts to distort them towards serving the party’s jaundiced, partisan perspective.”
A number of high-profile Maltese politicians have criticised the existence of party media in the past, including former Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami, who said they’ll eventually be made redundant, and former President George Abela, who made the same constitutional arguments against them that Lovin Malta currently is.
Nineteen years since Spiteri penned his article, Lovin Malta has filed a court case arguing that the broadcasting law which allows the Broadcasting Authority to regulate impartiality as a whole across all private TV stations goes against the Constitution, which says broadcasting must be impartial.
Both the Nationalist and Labour Parties have pledged to defend their right to continue owning TV stations.