The Labour party has often complained that the state owned public broadcasting service is being used as a propaganda tool by GonziPN. The people who have been selected to run PBS are all either ex-PN employees or PN sympathizers. The events this week further cement this fact. Even though rather late in the legislature, GonziPN must act responsibly. By abusing its power of incumbency, the Gonzi administration is definitely reserving a place on the wrong side of history.
Last Monday, on TVHemm, Norman Vella invited Minister Jason Azzopardi to discuss price reductions on certain medicines. This cheap propaganda bypassed the problems of medicine shortages as well as the number of essential medicines that are out of stock in government and private pharmacies. Norman Vella did not ask for an opposition representative so that certain pertinent questions are not put to the Minister. On Thursday, Vella invited Frank Portelli to discuss the government’s acquisition of his hospital and although possible Labour government decisions were mentioned, Labour was omitted from the discussion.
That same day, ex-PN Council President Pierre Portelli had a telephone interview with Dr. Frank Portelli. The subject was the rental of Dr. Portelli’s St. Philips Hospital. During this telephone call presented on-air, Dr. Portelli attacked the Labour party. Pierre Portelli should have given viewers the opportunity to see the other side of the coin. Obviously this would not have been in the interests of GonziPN and no Labour Party spokesman was asked for the PL’s reaction.
On TVAM Pierre Portelli again disregarded impartiality guidelines by calling PBS editor Natalino Fenech and by broadcasting Fenech’s biased telephone during which the PL’s stand in search of impartial state broadcasting was attacked. The Labour party was not asked to give its side of the story.
Text in TVM news reporting is biased in favour of GonziPN. In an item regarding the opening of the quay at Cirkewwa, there was only praise but no mention that this is a 17 year-old promise, launched by five different PN ministers and costing millions above budget.
PBS’s Natalino Fenech has said that it reports only newsworthy items. But who decides what is newsworthy. Surely the annual distribution of fruit sent by the EU should not be one of these items, but since it was distributed by Minister George Pullicino, its news value seems to have become relevant.
Since there is a severe imbalance in the administration, PBS, in the interests of the people that pay for its upkeep, should ensure that balance is sought on any issue involving political decisions and discussions, especially at a crucial time such as the run-up to a general election.