€30 million allocated from public funds will be invested in the Public Broadcasting Services over the next five years, the Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister Carmelo Abela who is responsible for public broadcasting, said.
The announcement was made during a meeting chaired by Minister Abela where an agreement was signed between the government and the Public Broadcasting Services.
“The agreement will lead to the provision of more resources which will improve the content proposed on PBS to reach a wider audience, including online. It will also mean a larger expenditure in relation to journalistic, sports and cultural programmes as well as programmes addressing children and programmes about Gozo,” a government statement read.
Minister Abela said that such an agreement is significant “as it will strengthen the foundation of the PBS. As a public broadcaster, it will now be able to focus on the development of more and better creative, high-quality programmes.”
Minister Abela remarked that through this investment, the government will double the public funds allocated to the PBS when compared to the funds that were allocated by the previous administration. Back in 2012, the previous administration in government had committed a little less than €3 million.
“It is therefore clear that this administration is now committing double the amount in the coming five years. This is a clear sign that government believes in a public broadcaster which presents high-quality content and which also further demonstrate the government’s commitment to promoting an independent public broadcaster. This agreement covers five years whereas previous agreements only covered three years. This revision caters for a longer period, which allows for more planning and stability,” the statement added.
“To fulfil the role of the PBS, which offers the best service to the public, all the necessary tools must be provided,” said Minister Abela. He mentioned that the agreement being signed includes several changes aimed at further ensuring that the Public Service Obligation imposed on PBS is delivered continuously and without interruption. In addition, the government is also ensuring that PBS uses all the platforms available to it for the transmission of these services, including those online. Minister Abela reaffirmed the government’s belief in media pluralism and the need for a strong independent media to investigate and challenge its operation.
Minister Abela added that PBS, as a national broadcaster, is obliged to ensure and guarantee a balanced and impartial service as well as present programmes that meet a Public Service Obligation. These include journalistic, sports, cultural, children’s programs as well as those about Gozo. This obligation on PBS stems from the Broadcasting Act.
He added that such services are based on obligations necessary to meet the social, democratic and cultural needs of Maltese society but which are not acceptable to a normal commercial operator. Given this, the government enters into a Public Service Obligation Agreement with PBS to ensure adequate compensation to PBS for the financial loss that the company incurs from these obligations.
Regarding his vision for Public Broadcasting, the minister said that work is currently underway for the next call for programmes and that this will be published after a wide discussion with all the stakeholders. “As a government, we look forward to the implementation of the reform needed within PBS. Both in relation to the organisation and in relation to the quality and variety of content proposed, with a schedule which addresses a wide audience. All of this is underway and will continue to intensify in the coming weeks so that finally the Maltese and Gozitan people will enjoy a better and more professional service”, concluded Minister Carmelo Abela.
Original article found on The Malta Independent