Lovin Malta’s court case challenging the constitutionality of political broadcasting on political party media heard its first witness yesterday, with Broadcasting Authority CEO Joanna Spiteri called to the stand.
The outcome of a crowdfunded campaign by the show Kaxxaturi, the constitutional case is challenging the constitutionality of a proviso in the Broadcasting Act.
You can watch the original announcement of the Kaxxaturi campaign below:
The Constitution obliges the Broadcasting Authority to ensure that TV stations preserve due impartiality in matters of political or industrial controversy “as much as possible”.
It also obliges the BA to ensure that broadcasting facilities and time are fairly apportioned between people belonging to different political parties.
However, the Broadcasting Act of 1991 includes a loophole that allows the BA to circumvent this requirement when regulating political party media, with a proviso allowing the authority to monitor impartiality among private TV stations “by looking at the general output of current affairs programmes across all licensees as a whole.”
The case was filed jointly by Lovin Malta, which is being represented by CEO David Grech and COO Bettina Falzon, and former CEO Chris Peregin in his personal capacity. Peregin has since joined the Nationalist Party.
A website, Kaxxaturi.com, has also been set up to explain the details of the case and why Lovin Malta decided to open it in the first place.
Lawyers Eve Borg Coztanzi and Matthew Cutajar are representing Lovin Malta.
State Attorney Chris Soler and James D’Agostino appeared for the state, while Pawlu Lia appeared for ONE and Paul Borg Olivier and Veronica Perici Calascione appeared for Media.Link.
Judge Ian Spiteri Bailey is presiding over the case.
The case resumes on 29th November when more witnesses are expected to take to the stand.
What do you think of party-owned TV stations?