The Broadcasting Authority (BA) has rejected a complaint filed by the Nationalist Party (PN) about the manner in which party leader Bernard Grech was interviewed on the current affairs programme ‘Insights’.
In January, the PN filed an official complaint with the BA against TVM journalist Glen Falzon over questions he chose to ask Grech during a planned interview.
In its complaint, the PN, through its secretary general Francis Zammit Dimech, claimed that Falzon’s questions and “behaviour” were clearly inspired and based on the Labour Party’s “partisan narrative” against Grech and the PN.
As far as the BA is concerned, the fact that both the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition had been granted an interview was equal treatment in and of itself.
“The authority after hearing the submission by the two parties and after viewing the documentation and the programme in question was of the opinion that the reactions of guests don’t create imbalance, rather balance was created through equal treatment, in the sense that both were given an interview and a platform,” the BA said in its decision.
It went on to state that every journalist was free to ask questions, even if they make the guest feel uncomfortable, adding that “in journalistic programmes like ‘Insights’, which is a current affairs programme, it is difficult for there to be equal treatment, especially in light of the fact that current affairs develop from one day to the next”.
Furthermore, the BA said that the manner in which a journalist deals with someone they are interviewing is also dependent on that person’s replies to their questions.
The BA said there was no scope for it to enter into the merits of the nature of the journalist’s questions.
Pjazza misrepresented Prof Kevin Cassar
In a second decision handed down today, the Broadcasting Authority found that Pjazza presenter Karl Stagno Navarra had misrepresented Professor Kevin Cassar in reporting what he had said during a radio interview on 103 earlier this month.
Cassar complained to the BA about what he said were “false and malicious comments” by Stagno Navarra. The programme, he said, had tried to incite hatred or make viewers, who might also be his patients, to arrive at mistaken conclusions”.
Dr Jonathan Attard, who appeared on behalf of ONE, said that Pjazza was an “analysis” programme that had broadcast snippets of the radio programme, adding that the comments had been reproduced in media reports, including one by Newsbook. For this reason, he said there was no obligation to check what was said during the interview because it had already been reported and published.
Furthermore, Attard said that no right of reply had been requested.
The BA said it could not accept the complaint given that no right of reply was sent. That being said, the BA also noted that presenters needed to pay attention to the language they used.
“The authority feels that in this case, there was a deficiency on the part of the presenter and the station. The authority cannot ignore that Karl Stagno Navarra’s comments did not reflect that which Prof Kevin Cassar had said in his interview.”
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