Government interference in public broadcasting poses a threat to democracy, MEP David Casa said on Thursday.

Addressing the European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg, Casa insisted that “to strengthen democracy, we need to bolster the independence of the free press”.

He was speaking during a debate on the situation of journalists and the implications on the rule of law.

“The European Commission noted that there is a significant and direct influence by the Maltese government on the public broadcaster. This is unacceptable,” Casa said

Casa was referring to the Malta chapter of the European Commission’s 2022 Rule of Law report, which cites expert opinion that “consistently considered the independence of public service governance and funding to be an area presenting very high risk, given that the government has a significant and direct influence on public service media structures”. 

As co-chair of the EP’s media working group, Casa has campaigned for better laws and protections for journalists.

In April, the European Commission published a proposal for an anti-SLAPP directive, followed by a proposal for a European Media Freedom Act in September.

“This will bolster the independence of public broadcasters and ensure greater transparency in government funding of the media,” Casa said.

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