The national broadcaster disagrees with the Data Protection Commissioner’s decision that it should publish its chief executive officer’s work contract and has filed a formal appeal.
After PBS Ltd turned down various requests from the Times of Malta for a copy of John Bundy’s contract and confirmation that his predecessor, Anton Attard, was still being paid by PBS – or the government – despite his ousting, this newspaper took the case to Data Protection Commissioner Saviour Cachia, who instructed the State entity to furnish the required information.
In terms of the Freedom of Information Act, PBS has a time limit within which to comply, but instead, the national broadcaster filed an appeal before the Data Protection Appeals Tribunal.
In defending its decision not to publish the information requested, PBS argued that doing so would have a negative effect on Mr Bundy, a former Radio 101 employee, and ex-Net TV head Mr Attard. It said the CEO was not paid through public funds, since his salary was drawn from commercial activity generated by the State broadcaster.
However, the Data Protection Commissioner concluded the arguments raised by PBS did not hold water and it would be much better for transparency’s sake and in the public interest to give the information sought by the Times of Malta.
Mr Cachia also noted that, only last year, PBS was given about €4 million from public funds to carry on with its public mission and insisted that “such funds are surely intended to cover the salaries, including those of the top management”.
Mr Bundy took the helm at PBS shortly after Mr Attard’s contract as CEO was not renewed. It is known that Mr Bundy’s appointment was made directly by the Office of the Prime Minister without a call for applications or any selection process. Not even the PBS board of directors was informed in advance, and it became aware of Mr Bundy’s engagement when everything was already concluded.
Government sources told Times of Malta Mr Attard’s contract was still being honoured despite his no longer having any role at PBS.
Culture Minister Owen Bonnici, who is politically responsible for PBS, has always replied that “the information is in the public domain” when asked about Mr Attard’s position.