Culture Minister Owen Bonnici backtracks on publishing salaries of top positions at state broadcaster

Culture Minister Owen Bonnici has backtracked on his promise to publish information on the salaries afforded to high-level employees at the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) following parliamentary questions by the opposition, claiming now that the information would be too costly to provide.

Questions on the salaries and arrangement for PBS employees have been asked amid changes to higher management positions, most recently the resignation of the politically appointed former head of news, Norma Saliba, over a fallout with current Executive Chairman Mark Sammut, who is also paid as the chair of the board of directors.

The question was first asked in May and then in July, with Bonnici stating an answer “will be given in another [parliamentary] session.”

With no information forthcoming, opposition MP Graham Bencini asked the question a third-time last week, specifically the salaries of all past and current chairpersons, heads of news, and managers and editors at PBS over the last decade.

Bonnici responded that PBS informed him that the time and effort required to gather the information “would not be justified”, although he did not expand on exactly what costs would be incurred through collecting such data.

Following former head of news Norma Saliba’s resignation last July, she was immediately appointed head of the Centre for the Maltese Language, an “administrative” body for the Council of the Maltese Language. The body has no other employees, and it is unknown what qualifications Saliba, who does not even hold a degree in Maltese, has that makes her suitable for the position.

Furthermore, the council objected to the Centre’s “illegal” creation and the fact they were not consulted.

Meanwhile, PBS has refused to publish Saliba’s resignation letter and contract as the head of news position remains vacant.

The Shift has since revealed Saliba will receive a financial package of over €73,000 a year through arrangements she made with Bonnici. Furthermore, the terms of her new contract mean if she loses her position, she can return to PBS with the same package as before.

Saliba’s resignation was a direct result of a fallout with Sammut, who enjoys the backing of Prime Minister Robert Abela.

Following a two-year freedom of information battle, The Shift revealed last April that Sammut, in his two roles, earns more than €100,000 per year. In 2022, Sammut earned €26,000 to preside over just three PBS board meetings.

Last week, the public broadcaster filed a police report against Repubblika President Robert Aquilina after he held a press conference in front of PBS studios on Friday.

PBS’s transparency has been questioned and criticised for a lack of publicly available information, including how the public broadcaster spends some €6 million in taxpayer funds on programming.

International organisations assessing the editorial independence of state-administered media companies classified the public broadcaster as ‘state controlled’.


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R Agius
R Agius
4 months ago

What? Another liar? U ejja come on……

Andrew Farrugia
Andrew Farrugia
4 months ago

Always in the news for the wrong, execrable, depraved reasons, this sorry excuse for humanity, in- NODDY. SHAME you goon.

4 months ago

Creme de la creme of the gahan hierarchy. What a buffoon.

4 months ago

The Marx Brothers movie that was never made – “A Day At Parliament” – with multiple ministers auditioning for the rôle of dumb Harpo, passing around the wakka-wakka car-horn refrain of ‘financial secret-shmecret’ to general hoots of disbelief and laughter.

If Owenly we had real ministers…

4 months ago

Too costly what a joke What was a shame was the money given to certain people with more then one job , The amount of money given to a presenter for some show, and for the football group that visited our island besides other sums that were squandered .

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