It’s been more than a decade since either party-owned media station published their audited accounts, leaving major doubts on the transparency and financial position of their operations. The last time these accounts were published, both were already making massive losses with millions in debt.
By the end of 2003, the last time Media.Link published its accounts, the PN’s media wing had recorded a loss of Lm146,753, around €341,840. Media.Link’s debt stood at roughly €8.4 million.
With high debt ratio in excess of 200%, Media.Link was taking on a large amount of risk, depending on creditors resisting on the repayment of their loans.
Losses were seemingly mounting on the PN, almost doubling from the year before. Unpaid taxes were a serious concern with a total tax expense credit of Lm450,302 (approx. €1,048,900) by the end of the year.
Meanwhile, One Productions reported a loss of €507,479 when it last published its accounts in 2010. Total debt stood at €2,704,029
The auditors, RSM Malta, believed that One’s conditions at the time cast “significant doubt” about the company’s ability to continue.
It does seem that One was taking action at the time. The year-end loss had dropped by around €200,000 from the previous year and directors were confident that steps were being taken to address the issues. One’s debt ratio was still a worrying 79%, implying that the company was also functioning under a high-risk model.
At the time, One employed 86 full-timers and 57 part-timers. A total wage bill of €1,375,271
One was also battling tax issues at the time. The Commissioner of Inland Revenue was chasing €590,000 in interest on FSS tax and outstanding social security payments. It also had around €150,000 in outstanding VAT balances.
Media.Link and One Productions have never been fined for failing to publish their accounts as is required by regulation. PN Deputy Leader Robert Arrigo has said bringing Media.Link’s accounts in order is a “work in progress”, while Prime Minister Robert Abela has said he will now leave the issue in the court’s hands.
Lovin Malta has announced that it has given formal notice to the State Advocate about a legal challenge it will mount to declare party stations unconstitutional.
The court case, which will be formally filed later this month, argues that a law approved by Parliament in 1991 to permit the stations to open went completely contrary to the demands of the Constitution.
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 PN and PL have regularly been asked to explain why the accounts are yet to be published and they have failed to do so. Promises to publish the accounts continue to be unrealised, raising serious doubts over the financial structures of these two massive media organisations.
Rather than remedy the issue, the PN and PL have continued on breaching regulations with little to no reprieve from authorities. This must change soon.
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