NEWS | Sunday, 30 September 2007

Bondi gets his way on Monday night slot

karl schembri

After being left out of the TVM schedule by the editorialboard, Lou Bondi has not only managed to get back on the air with his programme Bondiplus, but he has also managed to avoid competing programmes that would have robbed him of his audiences.
According to the PBS schedule announced last week by Chairman Joe Fenech Conti, Bondiplus was meant to be broadcast every Tuesday, but a last minute decision on Friday by the chairman and chief executive has shifted the programme to Monday, replacing a new TV drama called Tghanniqa produced by 26th Frame.
Besides sending all 26th Frame’s arrangements with their advertisers haywire, Bondi will now avoid the most popular drama series, Gizelle, on One TV.
He will also avoid another new competitor on Tuesdays – a discussion programme to be hosted by Pierre Portelli on Net TV called Bil-Fatti.
The producers of Tghanniqa are claiming thousands of liri in lost revenue.
“We have been left with no alternative,” said an exasperated Alessandro Farrugia, director of 26th Frame. “The PBS chief executive and management just told us this was not up for discussion. The only alternative they left us was to opt out.”
For Farrugia and his company, it was a long, protracted weekend of proposals and counter-proposals as they tried to recoup the losses they would incur from advertisers who were only interested in Mondays.
Until yesterday night, 26th Frame was still discussing a new deal with the PBS management which according to Farrugia was about to be reached.
The issue is even more sensitive for 26th frame given that Gizelle is now in its second season, so it is expected to keep its loyal audience, while their production is a newcomer on the airwaves that has yet to make an impact on audiences.
Bondi denied he put pressure on PBS when contacted yesterday night.
“I absolutely deny that I put pressure on PBS,” he said, claiming that he merely “discussed” the issue with PBS and the decision was that of the national station.
Asked whether he would confirm or deny Bondi’s allegations, the PBS chief executive declined to comment.
“This does not make sense at all,” Farrugia said. “The decision is damaging for both the station and us. Lou got his way, and he’s not new to that. We are sure he would react differently if he was in our shoes. Time and again he was extremely vociferous when anyone touched his programme. We would expect him to be more considerate as someone in the same business as us.”
Meanwhile Rachel Vella announced that her programme Tista’ Tkun Int will not be broadcast on any station this season after falling out with Debono and Fenech Conti.
Vella has accused the chairman and chief executive of running the station “like an auction”, raising the price of air time whenever they agreed on a package and changing the goalposts all along.
“Our decision to stop Tista’ Tkun Int for the current season revolved around the simple fact that the financial amount asked for the airtime did not justify the risk of such an investment given the current instability of the Maltese national station,” Vella said.
She added however that this was “definitely not a goodbye but a see you later”.

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