Journalists’ questions following an important press conference by Health Minister Chris Fearne and Public Health Superintendent Charmaine Gauci were banned from being aired on TVM this morning… prompting the Institute of Maltese Journalists (IGM) to call out the “decision which beggars belief”.
In a statement issued this evening, the IGM condemned the banning, calling it “state-sponsored censorship courtesy of the Broadcasting Authority”. The issue, the IGM elaborated, “came about following a decision handed down by the Broadcasting Authority and implemented by a helpless PBS which resulted in the censorship of questions by journalists.”
The banning harks back to a BA decision taken back on 16th June 2020, following a complaint by PN over a news conference held by Prime Minister Robert Abela.
In the one-hour broadcast, the Nationalist Party said, the Prime Minister had used broadcasting time to speak at length on issues of policy and political controversy, and did so in a “partisan manner.”
Because these comments were provoked by journalists’ questions on the Standards Commissioner and other political controveries, the decision taken by the authority was that if a news conference is not of a medical nature, questions from journalists will not be broadcasted publicly on TVM or TVM2.
“In its decision, the BA forced the public service broadcaster to censor the questions by journalists,” the IGM said today referencing that decision. “It was even obliged to censor its own journalists.”
“This is a decision which beggars belief. In no democratic state is this sort of censorship acceptable.”
“By its decision, the BA has effectively forced the PBS into a State Broadcaster similar to what one finds in totalitarian regimes,” the IGM continued. “All those who prefer to follow news and current affairs on this medium, believing and trusting in the reliability of the public service ethos, have been denied that service and are now forced to seek verification elsewhere.”
“The IGM requests a meeting of rectification given that with its decision, the BA has silenced all journalists including those at PBS whose credibility as a station is now in rendered derelict,” the statement finished.