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We will no longer accept PBS censorship - Repubblika

Civil society group Repubblika on Friday warned Public Broadcasting Services (PBS) and the government that it will no longer accept a state of censorship on the national station.

Addressing a news conference outside the PBS premises, hours before the national station launched its new schedule, Aquilina pointed out that the last station schedule was short of investigative journalism and current affairs discussion programmes.

PBS managed to eliminate all discussion programmes with the aim of stifling debate, especially when there are critical voices, and in doing so, restricted its citizens from knowing what is happening in the country, he charged.

As the national station, PBS, he stressed, is obliged to give space to all voices in the country, including those the government was uncomfortable with.

The National Broadcasting Policy obliged PBS to provide a balance representative of society in its programmes. It was also obliged to promote and support democratic debate.

The same policy obliged PBS to provide impartial and balanced coverage to all parties in matters of political controversy and to give a true and comprehensive picture of what is happening. 

But PBS had done the complete opposite, serving as a tool for the government to stifle and censor voices, especially those that were most critical of it.

Aquilina said the appointment of the new head of news of the station should be made through a call and not handpicked by a minister or the prime minister. The process, he said, had to be a transparent and meritocratic one, as the PL had promised it would be when it was in Opposition.

He said the head of news should be a competent person who serves the station’s audience and the people rather than the government or prime minister of the day.

This would be in line with the European Media Freedom Act, which said that such appointments should be occupied by people who were totally independent from the government.

Repubblika president Robert Aquilina said it was also unacceptable for the NGO to have its activities reported for just a few seconds towards the end of the news bulletins.

Aquilina said Repubblika has never been invited to any PBS programme in the past two schedules and on a personal level, he was never invited when he published his book on the Pilatus bank scandal, contrary to an author who released a controversial book praising Adolf Hitler.