It may have flown under the radar, but the Nationalist Party has proposed a major reform in Malta’s television media landscape that would see political party-owned stations abolished and PBS turned into a fully independent public broadcaster.
In a policy document published at an extraordinary general conference on Republic Day, the PN recounted how the Nationalist government had in 1987 passed a media pluralism law as a response to how the previous PL government had controlled the dissemination of information through PBS, back then Malta’s only broadcaster.
However, it warned that the formation of political media stations had the added effect of reinforcing partisan blindness and propaganda from both major parties, therefore weakening the ability of Maltese citizens to inform themselves and reach their own political conclusions.
“This has caused damage to the truth, justice and democracy, and the time has come to take drastic steps,” the PN said.
“The PN is ready to engage in discussions on the way forwards, particularly with the goodwill of the Labour Party, so that the two of us can give up our broadcasting licenses and focus on our true aim as political parties, which is to engage in a healthy competition of proposals and actions for the good of the country and to be open and sensitive to criticism from the rest of society.”
The Nationalist Party’s plan involves turning PBS into a fully independent national broadcaster, monitored by a Broadcasting Authority whose chairman and board members are appointed through a two-thirds parliamentary vote so as to ensure they enjoy the trust of both major parties.
“Public broadcasting should be fully independent and should aim to inform, educate and entertain all strata of society,” the PN said. “It must ensure that everyone’s viewpoints are broadcast in a balanced, whole and free manner, with no obstruction and in full respect to the fundamental rights of expression and association.”
“It must ensue a level playing field through a dedicated space for broadcasting from political parties and social partners. When this is implemented, political parties will no longer require their own broadcasting licenses.”