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PBS Chair Says Station Must Look Beyond Balancing PL And PN Narratives And Reflect ‘More Complex Reality’

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PBS should look beyond striking a balance between the narratives of the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party and seek to better reflect the complex realities of life, the chairperson of Malta’s national broadcaster has said. 

“Impartiality is a principle that guides and conditions us, but we must look beyond ensuring a balance between PL and PN and reflect a more complex reality,” Prof. Carmen Sammut said this morning. 

“We must look at what’s going on in Malta and beyond and the way we represent the world, both in terms of factual reports and entertainment shows. It must be inclusive and reflect what we are, with all our diversity, including a sizeable part of the population who migrated to Malta on a temporary or permanent basis.”

Sammut, a journalism lecturer who was appointed PBS chairperson last September, was addressing a consultation session aimed at raising the bar at the national broadcaster. 

She said that PBS must update itself so as to maintain the attention of viewers in a world where audiences are becoming more fragmented. 

“Audiences expect to participate, and not only to passively absorb information. More than anyone else, PBS has a duty to improve its credibility because when trust in the media is lost, the foundations of democracy are shaken.”

Broadcasting Minister Carmelo Abela also called for major reform at PBS, but also other TV stations, saying the quality of broadcasting must improve across the board.

“We’re at a crossroads and have a choice to make on which path to take, but the status quo is definitely not an option,” he said. “We’re facing a challenge, but one which offers opportunities too. You might call this political rhetoric but I disagree because this work has already started.”

Abela said PBS should focus on exporting its programmes to an international audience, and to produce shows that cater for migrants living in Malta and the Maltese diaspora. 

“Some foreigners live here and maybe we’re not thinking enough of them,” he argued.

Sammut’s and Abela’s comments come amidst a debate about the future of broadcasting in Malta, with Lovin Malta filing a court case on whether political propaganda shown on party media stations breaches the Constitution.

Both the PL and PN have pledged to defend their TV stations, but Opposition leader Bernard Grech has suggested the PN could change its stance if the national broadcaster becomes “truly impartial”.

Do you agree with Prof. Carmen Sammut?

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