Mental ill-health has always had stigma attached to it; hence the umbrella term neurasthenia, which covered a multitude of symptoms, and indeed still appears in the medical annals of certain countries.

This was the condition, along with chronic headache, attributed to Ibrahim I, ‘The Mad’, the Ottoman Sultan who succeeded his brother Murad IV in 1640.

Some history books tell us that five years later, he ordered his fleet to attack Malta. But the Admiral of the Fleet, Kapudan Pasha, perhaps knowing that even back then we were made of stern stuff, wanted out.

Accidentally-on-purpose, he placed a candle on his naval map, such that the wax dripped onto where X marked our spot. The historical expression ‘Malta yok’ (‘Malta does not exist’) was born, and the fleet sailed off to attack the Venetians in Crete, and besiege them for 24 years.

As far as CNN is concerned, Malta is still yok, at least in its weather map. What has the Malta Tourism Authority done about this since the last time I mentioned it, many moons ago? Doubtlessly, a tiny dot, and the name, would lead to many foreigners saying ‘Ah! There it is’.

Compiling a list of things I like about local broadcasting is far swifter than putting together one of those that I do not.

First and foremost, there is the language question, which goes way beyond the Ġnus Maqgħuda or Nazzjonijiet Uniti question, and into the niceties. If we have the word ‘panewwi’, why is the media using ‘pannelli’, which even looks ugly written down? Why use ‘divers’, when we already have ‘għaddasa’? This is only slightly better than the pseudo-English words with which some guests on programmes pepper their Maltese – such as ‘flameable’ and ‘eatable’.

Malta yok also happened last Monday morning on Radju Malta, when the 7 and 8 a.m. news briefs did not go out, and the presenter was left to falter his way through an excuse because plainly he didn’t know what had happened.

This happening quashes the suspicions of those who insist that all bulletins are recorded beforehand. It also points out that there is no safety net for the morning shifts when something happens to the newscaster on duty on the lone ranger shift.

Whatever the cause for the schedule disruption, this incident will no doubt serve to galvanise the newsroom into finding a solution to prevent a similar one occurring. Far-fetched, but perfectly feasible, would be faxing the script or sending it as an e-mail to a standby newscaster, who would then read it over the phone or computer; stranger things have happened.

After all, one of the first things dinned into us during media induction courses is that the show must go on, by hook or by crook, come hell or high water, so shall it be written so shall it be done, and so on.

May I point out to all newsrooms, meanwhile, that it is bad form to use a nickname when referring to a person? This is especially so when the said moniker belongs to someone who would have committed a ­criminal offence; this gives him the folk hero status he no doubt craves but definitely does not deserve.

• The other day I was watching a programme related to animal welfare when a product of which the sponsor is an agent was being advertised. There, on the packet, was the sentence ‘Doggy Treats; not tested on animals’.

It is with the same double-take of incredulity that I read the comments and interpretations made by newspapers supporting this or that entity, each time the Broadcasting Authority publishes statistics returns.

Most people, having seen the tables, would have ascertained that TVM maintained its position as the most-watched station in the second quarter of this year. It is perhaps a sign of what’s on offer locally that 16.3 per cent of the viewing public cites “other TV stations” as their first preference. Xarabank remained the most-watched (is there not a category for ‘favourite’?) programme, at 14.4 per cent, followed by F’Salib it-Toroq (13.1 per cent), and TVM News (9.16 per cent).

Bay Radio topped the stats with 23.46 per cent of listeners; One Radio (14.14 per cent) and Calypso Radio (10.11 per cent) took second and third place. Listeners tuned in to One Radio for an average of 3.87 hours; for 1.89 hours to Bay Radio; and for 3.96 hours to Calypso Radio.

And there lies the rub. There were media that somehow arrived at the conclusion that “One was the most-listened to station in Malta” – and, inevitably, followed this up on social media with “no wonder One is the station of the year”.

This, as we have seen, is not necessarily the case, either way. And the wet blankets refuse to let Bay Radio enjoy its laurels – they were quick to point out, in very bad English, that Bay Radio’s listenership is down from the previous statistics taken, and that Vibe FM has nibbled at Bay Radio’s principal audience share.

Anyone with two brain cells to rub together will realise that different statistics by different entities will always give different results.

One result that is constant, however, is that pertaining to Radju Parlament.

This station always garners the least amount of votes (this time it was a perfunctionary 0.03 per cent). So now that we know the “service to the public” is not appreciated, can we please have Radju Bronja back?

Some stations air programmes similar to those of others, on the same day at the same time, no doubt in order to filch listeners or viewers. I wonder whether they compare the ratings for their programme and that of ‘the others’ – and whether a dismal showing will have any bearing on the decision of the station administration to leave it where it is, or change day and time, for the next schedule.

television@timesofmalta.com

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