Jason Azzopardi has won a complaint against PBS after he reported the national broadcaster to the Broadcasting Authority over a report it carried about him.
The report concerned a court ruling by magistrate Rachel Montebello last November following a complaint by Yorgen Fenech, the man charged with conspiring to assassinate journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Fenech demanded a court remedy after Azzopardi, the lawyer of the Caruana Galizias, implied his guilt in the murder during a 103FM interview.
Montebello dismissed Fenech’s request, saying he had every right to comment in his capacity as lawyer, but urged him to exercise more caution when speaking in public about the case, arguing that his position as an MP means his words carry a certain degree of weight.
Reporting on the ruling, TVM said in its title that Montebello had ‘warned’ Azzopardi, prompting the MP to cry foul over unfair and unfaithful coverage.
Azzopardi told the Broadcasting Authority that although TVM amended the title on its online article, this correction didn’t appear in its 8pm news bulletin.
Head of PBS news Norma Saliba confirmed that TVM had amended the online bulletin that had displayed the false information, but the 8pm television bulletin was still broadcast with the original title, for logistical reasons.
However, she noted that the correction was broadcast during its 11pm news bulletin and argued that this was an effective enough remedy.
“The report wasn’t faithful because the journalist misinterpreted the concept of the court urging caution as a warning, we accept Azzopardi’s complaint, and we declare that the title of the news report broadcast on 23rd November wasn’t faithful and fair with Dr. Jason Azzopardi,” the BA said.
“We feel that this decision is a remedy in and of itself. We’re giving a scolding to PBS and urge their newsroom to pay more careful attention on ensuring their reports are accurate. Reports should include interpretations of facts to ensure the bulletin remains impartial, true and accurate.”
“This is the first time I complained against PBS and I won. I won because I was right – PBS spoke as if they were Yorgen Fenech’s lawyers. Today they were reprimanded by the BA.”
Upon complaining, the online report was amended by TVM but the 8pm TV bulletin was not.
Azzopardi had filed a complaint against Malta’s public broadcaster TVM for falsely reporting that he had been reprimanded by a court decree for implying Yorgen Fenech’s guilt in the Daphne Caruana Galizia case in a 103FM interview last November.
“The Broadcasting Authority set the record straight and they lost,” he wrote .