Taxpayers will be forking out €6 million every year in subsidies for the public broadcaster over the coming years, with the government announcing an increase in the public service obligation handed out to PBS. 

Minister Carmelo Abela said on Tuesday that €30 million would be allocated from public funds for PBS over the next five years,  and argued that the increased government spending would “strengthen the foundation of the PBS”.

According to the government’s financial estimates, taxpayers paid €4.2m to PBS in 2018 and 2019,  with that figure projected to increase to €5m this year.  

The subsidies will be used for the provision of more resources which will improve the content proposed on PBS to reach a wider audience, including online, the minister said. He said it will also mean a larger expenditure in relation to journalistic, sports and cultural programmes as well as programmes addressing children and programmes about Gozo. 

The minister said that an agreement signed with PBS includes several changes aimed at further ensuring that the public service obligation imposed on PBS is delivered continuously and without interruption.

In addition, the government is also ensuring that PBS uses all the platforms available to it for the transmission of these services, including those online. 

As a national broadcaster, PBS is obliged to ensure and guarantee a balanced and impartial service as well as present programmes that meet a public service obligation, Abela said.

Given this, the government enters into a public service obligation agreement with PBS to ensure adequate compensation to PBS for the financial loss that the company incurs from these obligations.

Regarding his vision for Public Broadcasting, the minister said work is currently underway for the next call for programmes and that this will be published after a wide discussion with all stakeholders.

“As a government, we look forward to the implementation of the reform needed within PBS, both in relation to the organisation and in relation to the quality and variety of content proposed, with a schedule which addresses a wide audience.

“All of this is under way and will continue to intensify in the coming weeks so that finally the Maltese and Gozitan people will enjoy a better and more professional service”, Abela said.

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