The media arms on opposite sides of the political arena have requested intervention in a constitutional case filed by Lovin Malta challenging a law that allows such party stations to bypass the principle of impartiality.
A provision under the Broadcasting Act, namely the proviso to Article 13, allowed the broadcasting watchdog to “close an eye” on the manner of operation of party-owned stations, considering the general output of programmes “together as a whole.”
At the time when that law came into effect, the government of the day had argued that party-owned stations, with their essentially “partisan message,” would eventually balance each other out.
However, that reasoning was now being contested by Lovin Malta which argues that such partisan message delivered by One and Net TV could not be impartial and thus both stations breached the principle of impartiality as safeguarded by the constitution.
When the first hearing of the case kicked off on Thursday, Mr Justice Ian Spiteri Bailey took formal note of separate applications filed by lawyers representing One Productions Ltd and Media.Link Communications Ltd, requesting intervention in the dispute.
Both party stations are claiming a juridical interest in the case.
One TV lawyer, Pawlu Lia, argued that if Lovin Malta were to succeed in its challenge, the outcome would have serious effects on the station’s operations “and therefore its existence”.
Media.Link Communications lawyer Veronica Perici Calascione, was granted one week within which to file a note to explain further the company’s juridical interest in the suit.
The court will decree upon the two separate requests in chambers.
The case continues in October.
Lawyers Eve Borg Costanzi and Matthew Cutajar are assisting the applicant.
State Advocate Chris Soler and lawyer James D’Agostino are representing the State.
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