Former Prime Minister and current MEP Alfred Sant has described the constitutional challenge to a law that allows partisan TV stations as a “jihad” led by “prehistoric individuals”.
“The scandal of those who are critical of political parties’ radio and TV station leaves me cold. I have not always believed in the ‘impartiality’ and ‘objectivity’ of the ‘independent’ media, but I never thought that it should be regulated or stopped.”
“That members of this media feel they should dictate that party stations are removed altogether in the name of “impartiality” is a joke. Because if you apply the same criteria to them it doesn’t go very far.”
“At a time when social media is pumping out all sorts of messages about this, that, and the other, the fixation against the stations of political parties, impartial or not, has every smell of jihad led by people still living in the time of the dinosaurs,” Sant said on social media.
The court case, started by Lovin Malta, argues that a law approved by Parliament in 1991 to permit the stations to open went completely contrary to the demands of the Constitution.
A proviso in Article 13 of the Broadcasting Act enables party stations to exist on the premise that they balance each other out, even though Malta’s Constitution, the highest law in the land, clearly states that all broadcast media should be as much as possible impartial. One and Net are the exact opposite of what the Constitution demands, Lovin Malta argues.
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; former President George Abela; and former Finance Minister Lino Spiteri. Former Prime Minister Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici even predicted that the law would be challenged in court.
Malta’s political party stations also face mounting financial difficulties. Both One and Net were millions in debt when they last published their accounts over a decade ago.
Lovin Malta is arguing that these financial difficulties also render the political parties highly vulnerable to corruption since they are dependent on big business donations.
The court case was filed by lawyers Eve Borg Costanzi and Matthew Cutajar. The case will be heard in front of the Civil Courts.
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