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PBS Bleeding Taxpayer Money As Debts Reach At Least €6 Million After Years Of Mismanagement

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Millions of euro in taxpayer money are being drained at Public Broadcasting Services, the company that runs TVM and TVM2, parliamentary figures have revealed.

The accounts for both the financial years 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 were published by Minister Carmelo Abela following a parliamentary question by MP Joseph Ellis. The accounts for 2019-2020 have not been finalised.

According to its latest published accounts, PBS registered a loss of €557,380 in 2019. At the time, its liabilities exceeded its assets by €5.9 million. Sources have told Lovin Malta that the situation has deteriorated further in recent years, with the company likely to be in the red by around €10 million.

“These conditions indicate the existence of a material uncertainty which may cast significant doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern, and, consequently, on its ability to realise its assets and discharge its liabilities in the normal course of business,” auditors officially concluded in 2019.

It was an improvement from 2018 when PBS registered a loss of €1.3 million and its liabilities exceeded its assets by €6.3 million.

TVM is Malta’s biggest TV station and competes for advertising with the private sector, despite getting millions in state funding, as seen in the accounts.

The 2019 accounts also said the company was legally exposed by another €10 million since past and present employees were suing it for the introduction of a pension scheme. PBS already lost the case but filed an appeal.

Recently, PBS has been ordered to pay former CEO John Bundy €226,500 in compensation for unfairly sacking him back in 2017. PBS is appealing the decision.

Bundy flagged serious misgivings during his tribunal about the way the national broadcaster was run, including the way money was spent on secret Junior Eurovision side deals and extravagant lunch bills.

The disastrous financial situation is the cumulative result of abuse and bad management, with some sacred cows earning ludicrous amounts of money without any justification, multiple sources told Lovin Malta.

Prime Minister Robert Abela had promised reform in PBS during his leadership election. So far, it seems the biggest decision was to remove the most successful TV programme Xarabank.

Last February Minister Carmelo Abela claimed that PBS was less dependent on public funding than other TV stations abroad and was able to obtain a significant amount of its revenue from advertising.

In September, Abela announced that taxpayers will be giving €30 million to PBS in the next five years, at a rate of €6 million per year.

TVM’s competitors One and Net are also reportedly drowning in debt and have not published their accounts for more than 10 years.

What do you think of the figures? Comment below

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Christian is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who founded Lovin Malta to create real impact in society. He is passionate about justice, making sure taxpayer money is spent correctly and finding ways to build a better future.

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