Political party-owned TV stations are responsible for so many problems that it’s “hard to quantify”, Matthew Caruana Galizia has warned.
“They cost millions of euro per year to run and they’re funded by parties which promise things to people and which essentially disguise bribes as advertising payments,” Caruana Galizia, son of assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, said during an interview on Jon Mallia’s podcast ‘Il-Podcast ta’ Jon.
Besides giving donors an easy route to disguise bribes, Caruana Galizia warned that TV stations allow parties to “pollute” political discourse in a criminal manner.
“I believe that the right to express yourself is almost absolute but political parties use their propaganda in a criminal way, where they become a tool used by parties that have become organised criminal groups to undermine any attempts at holding them to account and bringing them to justice,” he said.
Lovin Malta has filed a court case that challenges the constitutionality of political broadcasting on political party media.
The outcome of a crowdfunded campaign by the show Kaxxaturi, which you can watch below, the case is challenging the constitutionality of a proviso in the Broadcasting Act.
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.”
In his interview with Jon Mallia, Caruana Galizia also drew parallels between the state of the Labour Party under Joseph Muscat and the PL in the late 70s and 80s, a period marked by serious political turmoil and civil unrest.
Back then, the PN government elected in 1987 didn’t actively pursue justice for corruption cases, sidelining this in favour of a desire to maintain civil order.
“The PN government didn’t take justice seriously and the PL wasn’t forced to learn any lessons, therefore there wasn’t any reckoning and things got worse,” he said.
“Bribery and corruption are crimes, not tools to maintain power. People who are guilty of these crimes must be brought to justice, or else we’ll be condemned to keep repeating this cycle.”
What do you think of party-owned TV stations?