Political party media are set to receive a further €40,000 in COVID-19 state aid in the coming months, excluding revenue from government advertising, bringing the total amount of aid up to €400,000.
ONE and NET, the propaganda arms of PL and PN, have already received €360,000 in state aid between March and June, €180,000 each, and Malta Enterprise has now confirmed with Lovin Malta that its aid package for media houses will be extended till September.
TV media providers are entitled to up to €45,000 a month in state aid, which would have entitled ONE and NET to a combined total of €630,000. However, the aid is capped at €200,000 per undertaking, which means ONE and NET will receive a combined total of €400,000, the maximum they can receive.
However, only media houses which employ at least four full-time journalists are eligible for this aid, which means the only TV providers who are benefiting from it are TVM, the state’s own broadcaster, and the political party media stations.
Smash, F Living and Xejk, three small but independently owned TV stations, have all confirmed that they haven’t benefitted from this aid package and weren’t even informed of it.
Political party stations are also receiving way more aid than other independent media houses.
While NET and ONE are receiving €45,000 a month, newspapers are receiving €10,000. This means ONE Productions and Media.Link are each receiving more per month than all four Maltese independent newspaper houses (Allied Productions, MediaToday, Standard Publications and Union Print) combined.
By the end of September, ONE and NET would each have received €200,000, while each newspaper would have received €80,000
Meanwhile, online news portals like Lovin Malta are entitled to €5,000 a month while radio media providers are entitled to €3,500. Media houses which provide a news service on more than one portal or channel are entitled to €10,000, the same as newspapers.
This aid comes amidst a national discussion on whether party’s media, oftentimes seen as political propaganda, should continue to be allowed in Malta.
Lovin Malta’s show Kaxxaturi has raised over €7,500 to mount a court case against Malta’s party-owned TV stations, arguing that political coverage by ONE and NET goes against the Constitution, the right to freedom of information, and the basic rules of fair competition.
Update: An early version of the article incorrectly stated that ONE and NET will receive €630,000 by the end of September. This calculation didn’t take into account Malta Enterprise’s €200,000 cap per undertaking. Taking into account means NET and ONE will each receive €200,000 in COVID-19 aid, the maximum per undertaking.
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