“Malta deserves a national broadcaster that tells the truth, not Castille’s propaganda,” NGO Repubblika’s president Robert Aquilina said during a press conference on Friday morning.
Aquilina claimed PBS’s selective reporting and coverage of political debate in the country “amounts to nothing but censorship”.
At the conference in front of PBS’s studios in Gwardamanġa, Aquilina called for a public and transparent process to select a new head of news for the public broadcaster following Norma Saliba’s resignation last July.
Aquilina claimed PBS news lacked impartiality and said, “Repubblika was not invited to share its opinions on the national broadcaster – never,” listing a series of protests, legal actions and statements by the group which were “systematically censored”.
Aquilina, who stood in front of a banner reading “censorship”, said, “PBS is obliged to support political debate” in the country, calling for a proper “space for our opinions to be broadcast” and for higher quality programming involving investigative reporting and a balanced discussion of current events.
Repubblika’s conference was held ahead of the launch of the new PBS programming schedule on Monday. Aquilina said the public “has no information on the new schedule, as contrary to established practice, PBS has not yet published it.”
“Repubblika is informed that it is only [on Friday night] that the new schedule will be published,” he said, referencing internal conflicts at PBS leading up to and following former head of news Norma Saliba’s departure last July.
Monday’s new schedule will be launched with PBS lacking a Head of News. Repubblika called for any new Head of News “to be accepted only following a public call for applications and not dictated by some minister or by prime minister Robert Abela”.
“The selection process should be transparent and meritocratic,” Aquilina said. “The person should be competent, serving both TVM’s audience and the Maltese at large”.
The Shift reported how Norma Saliba’s resignation was the direct result of a fallout with the politically appointed PBS Executive Chairman Mark Sammut, who found the backing of Prime Minister Robert Abela.
Saliba has since been politically appointed as Executive Head of the newly formed Centre for the Maltese Language by Culture Minister Owen Bonnici, spurring opposition given its haphazard and irregular setup.