Court confirms judgement in PN case against PBS, Broadcasting Authority
An appeals court has confirmed a decision slamming PBS and the Broadcasting Authority for partiality in broadcasting. Damages have been raised from €1,500 to €5,000 each.
The original court sentence was delivered in July last year in a case instituted by the Nationalist Party.
The court had decided that both the BA and PBS failed to ensure impartiality and protection against discrimination.
The case was filed over two separate incidents.
The first issue concerned the fact that it had taken PBS three months to publish a right of reply which the PN won, after twice filing a complaint before the Broadcasting Authority.
That right of reply was granted after an interview aired on TVAM about the newly inaugurated Marsa flyover project was deemed “rather extensive and could have given rise to propaganda”.
PBS ignored the authority’s directive. The PN’s right of reply was published only after a second complaint triggered a €4,660 penalty for PBS.
That penalty was subsequently suspended once the State broadcaster accepted to abide by the authority’s order.
The second issue concerned political advertising spots concerning the 2022 Budget.
Fifteen minutes’ worth of PN adverts, each 30 seconds long, were practically “neutralised” when sandwiched between government ads.
This second grievance was also upheld by the court.
PN leader welcomes appeal court’s decision
Opposition leader Bernard Grech welcomed the court decision. He observed in a Facebook post and later at a press conference that the BA and PBS had been convicted of breaching the fundamental rights of the PN when they censored its message.
“This is confirmation that PBS has become Robert Abela’s propaganda machine,” he said. Partiality in the way the news was reported had become consistent and manipulation from Castille was evident, he said.
The decision by the constitutional court was therefore a victory for Malta, for the people and the PN, he said.
It was vital for the national broadcaster to be truly impartial as required by the constitution, rather than serving the interests of the Labour Party. Times of Malta