BA FORCES PBS TO CENSOR PRESS CONFERENCES
Today, those who viewed the press conference given by the Deputy PM Chris Fearne and the Superintendent of Public Health Prof Charmaine Gauci on the public service broadcaster were subjected to state sponsored censorship courtesy of the Broadcasting Authority. This came about following a decision handed down by the Broadcasting Authority and implemented by a helpless PBS which resulted in the censorship of questions by journalists.
In a decision taken on 16th June 2020, the BA had been asked for redress by the Partit Nazzjonalista when the Prime Minister replied to a series of questions by journalists with a partisan slew. This took place in a press conference related to information-giving on coronavirus. The informative presser was addressed by the PM Robert Abela, his Deputy Chris Fearne and the Superintendent of public health Prof Gauci.
In its decision, the BA said “the political element in this press conference was provoked by some questions from the journalists present….the political element took place in the questions session, with the said questions provoking a political response in the answer.The Prime Minister could not but answer…the Authority is aware that any imbalance was created because of the questions asked.” The BA therefore forced the public service broadcaster to censor the questions by journalists. It was even obliged to censor its own journalists.
This is a decision which beggars belief. In no democratic state is this sort of censorship acceptable. By its decision, the BA has effectively forced the PBS into a State Broadcaster similar to what one finds in totalitarian regimes. All those who prefer to follow news and current affairs on this medium, believing and trusting in the reliability of the public service ethos have been denied that service and are now forced to seek verification elsewhere.
The IGM requests a meeting of rectification given that with its decision, the BA has silenced all journalists including those at PBS whose credibility as a station is now in rendered derelict.