The Nationalist Party has gone to the constitutional court over what it described as political bias and propaganda on the state broadcaster PBS.
Addressing a press conference on Saturday, PN deputy leader David Agius said the party was taking legal action against the Broadcasting Authority, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), Minister Carmelo Abela, who is responsible for state broadcasting, and the office of the state advocate.
Agius said the PN had decided to take its battle to court after suffering months of political imbalance, particularly in news coverage on PBS.
The state broadcaster, he said, had become completely infiltrated by Labour propaganda and no longer offered balanced views and information on sensitive topics of national importance.
The PN filed its court application in the first hall of the civil court in its constitutional function on Friday.
The application was signed by PN general secretary and lawyer Michael Piccinino and lawyers Paul Borg Olivier and Francis Zammit Dimech, both of whom previously served as PN general secretaries.
Agius said PBS has been completely taken over by Castille.
“People are being bombarded with propaganda from the Labour administration, with the Opposition’s message either completely disregarded or else hidden away at the end of news bulletins,” Agius said.
News coverage during the 8pm prime-time slot was at times taken up with up to 50 per cent Labour messaging, Agius said, with some news bulletins not dedicating a single second of airtime to the Opposition.
This, Agius argued, was a violation of the constitution.
Malta's constitution appoints the Broadcasting Authority as the regulator of the sector and makes it responsible for ensuring "due impartiality" and ensuring that "broadcasting facilities and time are fairly apportioned between persons belonging to different political parties."
Agius said that the PN had appealed to the BA in recent months over impartial news coverage after the October budget.
While the authority had given the PN daily one-minute slots for 15 days, PBS had circumvented this decision by “sandwiching” the slots with government adverts promoting the Budget before and after each segment.
Agius was joined by Piccinino, who said the public’s fundamental rights were being ignored every time the state broadcaster gave unbalanced news coverage.
The PN had taken this step to open a constitutional case because the public had a constitutional right to be fairly informed of important developments.
Wrapping up the conference, PN electoral candidate Francine Farrugia said the government was on a frantic spending spree.
This, however, could not cover up the fact that state entities like PBS had been taken over by the Labour administration.
PL release statement – 'PN isn’t credible'
In a statement, the Labour Party said that the Opposition were always looking to shift the blame, and weren’t credible.
The irony of PN deputy leader David Agius calling this press conference was that he knew very well how the state broadcaster can be manipulated, PL said.
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