The national broadcaster’s board of directors has informed the government it lost confidence in the CEO and wants him replaced, the Times of Malta has learnt.
Confirming that the government had been informed of a “developing disagreement” between the Public Broadcasting Services’ board of directors and John Bundy, a spokesman for Culture Minister Owen Bonnici said he was still “analysing the best way forward to assist in settling this internal issue”.
In a meeting on Wednesday, all seven members of the government-appointed board and chairman Tonio Portughese, passed a motion of no-confidence in Mr Bundy, broadcasting industry sources said. They said the meeting was not held at PBS’s office in Guardamangia, as usually happens.
The Times of Malta was told that, after the meeting, held at the offices of the Malta Arts Council, in Valletta, the board’s work was put off sine die (indefinitely) until Mr Bundy was replaced. He also communicated the decision to Dr Bonnici.
The sources said the matter had been simmering for quite some time as the board increasingly felt Mr Bundy was not following its directions, even when specifically told to do so.
“We have had enough and the company cannot continue working like this. The minister has been made aware several times of the situation but to no avail. Now he has to decide. It’s either us or Mr Bundy,” a board member said, insisting on anonymity.
The sources said that, in his communication to the minister, Mr Portughese made it clear the board would no longer work with Mr Bundy and that all its members were willing to step down if the government did not take immediate action.
Mr Bundy was appointed by Dr Bonnici a year ago without a call for applications. His relationship with the board has been a bumpy one ever since, the sources recalled, noting that although the directors had not been informed in advance of the appointment, they still rubber-stamped it, though a degree of opposition was expressed.
The sources pointed out that it was Mr Bundy’s handling of the procurement of services, the renting out of TV studios and farmed-out programmes that broke the camel’s back. Also, they added, he made decisions without the board’s approval and doubts had been raised with regard to the observance of rules.
“Mr Bundy has repeatedly been given clear directions on how he should proceed with regard to services procurement. Yet, the situation did not improve,” the sources said.
Another matter that annoyed the board was a decision by Mr Bundy to authorise five promotions without first making an internal call for applications. Three of the promotions were made yesterday, after the board’s decision.
Asked for a reaction to the board’s decision and whether he considered stepping down, Mr Bundy said that he had not yet been informed about the board’s decision. Mr Bundy had become synonymous with the Nationalist Party media in the 1990s following the liberalisation of broadcasting and had even unsuccessfully contested the elections on the PN’s ticket.
However, his relationship with the PN later soured and he moved to the Labour media soon after Joseph Muscat became party leader.