It is easy to understand that democracy is not just about having the right to vote every couple of years. To peg democracy down simply to the right to vote would be adopting a restrictive approach that would in reality not be reflective of what democracy is really all about.
Democracy is about the freedom to express one’s views and opinions and the question those in authority without having to fear the consequences for doing so. Democracy is about the right to information; the right to have the facts in hand in order to be able to make an informed choice.
A key element in the access to such information is the state broadcaster. Although our country enjoys media pluralism and has private media houses the strenght of numbers of the national broadcaster cannot be understated.
Sadly the national broadcaster, PBS, has been reduced to a Labour Party bulletin board. The 8pm news bulletin regularly relegates anything related to the PN to minor importance or to the trash can althogether. Similarly any material critical to the government’s utopian image of Malta is relegated to minor importance or to being left out altogether. PBS’s 8pm news bulletin would indeed make the North Korean news agency quite envious and would perhaps illicit the head of news of the North Korean news agency to take notes on how it can all be it done.
This outright bias against anyone critical to Labour can also be seen by taking a quick look at the hosts of current affairs programmes on PBS. For the most part these hosts are either former One TV journalists or former Labour Party activisits or a cocktail of both!
It is clear that the situation at PBS is akin to being a major fault in Maltese democracy. The Labour Party is enjoying a major advantage, paid for and supported by our taxes. Labour is using its power of incumbancy to manipulate a major information dessimination point.
No person who holds democracy dear can take this state of affairs lightly. The time to shrug it off and chalk it down to the advantages of the power of incumbancy is over. The time for addressing this deficiency has come; action is needed and it is needed now more then ever before. PBS cannot be left to remain Malta’s version of Pravda!
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