The two PN leadership contenders have lashed out at the Broadcasting Authority (BA) for its decision to censor journalists’ questions during press conferences televised on the public broadcaster, as the Institute of Journalists also took a stand against the BA ruling.
In a statement, Opposition Leader Adrian Delia said that despite the fact that it was the PN that had filed the complaint to the BA about a lack of impartiality during a press conference held in June, this balance can never be achieved by silencing journalists.
He said questions by journalists were required to ensure checks and balances on the government of the day.
It was a sentiment also expressed by PN leadership hopeful Bernard Grech who wrote to the chairperson of the BA to revoke the decision to censor journalists’ questions during press conferences and make sure this is applied on both national television and radio.
He said the decision by the BA violates the Constitution, is completely abusive and harms the public’s right to be informed.
The stand was taken after the BA decided to ban journalists from asking questions in a highly controversial decision.
The Institute of Maltese Journalists (IGM) said the BA was forcing PBS to censor journalists, forcing it to become a State broadcaster “similar to what one finds in totalitarian regimes”.
As the BA persisted in its decision, saying it was “final”, the IGM issued another statement saying the Authority was choosing to blame journalists instead of rectifying an error of judgment.
“It is a journalist’s job to ask questions. This is a fundamental right, also known as freedom of expression. It is a politician’s job to answer. It is called transparency and accountability,” the IGM said in a statement on Thursday.
The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation has also criticised the BA’s ruling, saying censorship of the media does not belong in democratic societies but in totalitarian regimes. The Foundation also said the decision should be reversed: “The BA should uphold constitutional rights, not violate them”.