Pablo Micallef, a director on the board of the Public Broadcasting Services, is leading several of Labour’s propaganda efforts including the presentation of productions on One TV and government events, despite the national broadcaster’s duty of impartiality.
Board members usually steer clear of partisan politics. Yet as recently as last Sunday, Micallef presented the programme in which Prime Minister Robert Abela addressed Party followers on the Labour Party’s station.
A few days earlier, Micallef led the government’s second inauguration of the Marsa junction, transmitted live on social media.
On both occasions, Micallef showered praise on the prime minister and his administration.
“It is absolutely not on that a member of our board continues to participate in partisan activities. He should know that this is very unethical,” a senior PBS official told The Shift.
“Our journalists and those working for us on a contract basis are not allowed to even appear on other stations, if not in their official role, let alone present TV programmes on rival stations as Micallef is doing. He has to choose what he wants to be as he cannot be a member of the national station’s board and a Labour propagandist,” the official said.
The PBS board was formed in September last year and is tasked with carrying out the reform of the national broadcaster.
Micallef is also tasked with handling public relations at the Water Services Corporation – another government agency.
Meanwhile, the Malta Tourism Authority (MTA), led by former Labour Minister Gavin Gulia, is still refusing to state whether a hotel, owned by newly appointed PBS Chairman Mark Sammut, is licenced to serve as a hotel.
Mark Sammut, an IT consultant of former disgraced European Commissioner John Dalli, with no experience in broadcasting, has been appointed Executive Chairman of PBS, replacing Prof Carmen Sammut, just six months after her appointment.
Since 2013, Mark Sammut and his wife, Carmen, have been awarded lucrative government contracts by various ministries.
According to media reports, a hotel they own in Bugibba, Damiani Hotel, is illegal and has been operating without a permit. For some reason, it has not been closed by the MTA.
While the hotel is not mentioned in the MTA’s list of licenced hotels, both MTA Chairman Gavin Gulia and CEO Johann Buttigieg are refusing to reply to questions.
At the same time, Mark Sammut has taken over the reins of PBS, sending employees his new management structure at the public broadcaster. His predecessor, CEO Charles Dalli has been demoted to chief operations officer but stayed on PBS books.