PBS spend questioned, as veterans say figures make no sense

PBS has failed to justify the allocation of public funds and has yet to provide an annual audit, as required by law.

 

An analysis by The Shift of how PBS distributed its Public Service Obligation (PSO) funds in 2021 shows that a large portion of the funds were allocated to programmes with little to no audience reach.

According to the latest data obtained by The Shift through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, money is being diverted towards commercial programmes against the terms of the National Broadcasting Policy.

The policy dictates that public funds given to Public Broadcasting Services (PBS) are to be used for educational, cultural, and non-commercial content.

A programme conducted by former ONE TV presenter Angela Agius, ‘Niskata’, was allocated over €300,000. The programme, which consists of studio-based interviews and food recipes, is aired every day in the early afternoon.

According to the 2021 Broadcasting Authority (BA) audience survey, ‘Niskata’s peak audience during the week reached just 26,000, averaging around 10,000 viewers daily.

Most expensive TVM programmes in 2021 and their peak audience during the week

TVAM, which is TVM’s breakfast show aired daily between 6.30am and 9am, cost taxpayers almost €400,000. According to the BA survey, no one watched the programme on several days of the week, and its peak audience stood at just 6,000 viewers.

Public funds were also spent on FIT AM, a 30-minute daily show broadcasting fitness exercises. The BA’s audience survey shows its maximum audience during the week was 4,500 viewers, with no audience whatsoever on some days.

Broadcasting mass every Sunday cost PBS approximately €611,000 in subsidies in 2021 –  a ridiculous amount for a basic production, according to broadcasting veterans contacted by The Shift who shed doubt on the integrity of the figures made available by the state broadcaster.

To date, PBS has failed to justify the allocation of public funds and has yet to provide an annual audit, as required by law.

According to public service obligation (PSO) rules, PBS must keep PSO accounts separate from its day-to-day operations and report the distribution of funds to the government annually.

Minister Owen Bonnici, responsible for PBS, has not made the documents available when repeatedly asked in parliament.

The Shift has already revealed how PBS has used hundreds of thousands of its PSO allocation to fund its newsroom – which is illegal under broadcasting law.

PBS also stopped producing its current affairs programmes and handed the programme to Saviour Balzan, the owner of Malta Today, who also acts as a PR consultant to government ministers.

The Shift revealed that between 2018 and 2021, Balzan’s programmes were allocated more than €600,000 in state funds despite poor viewership numbers.

                           

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3 Comments
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S. Camilleri
S. Camilleri
1 month ago

What a waste of public funds.

wenzu
wenzu
1 month ago

Do people REALLY watch local TV. The vast majority of the output is unwatchable crap! It’s far more entertaining to watch paint dry, at least there are no banal commercials to insult the intelligence.

Carmelo borg
1 month ago

Ma ninsewx li MADAME ANGELA AGUIS HIJA MEMBRU FIL GERARKIJA TAL PARTIT TAL LAJBUR. TRID IL FLUS BIEX TIRRANGA HUX HEKK ANG?

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