NEWS | Sunday, 14 October 2007

Josie Muscat accuses independent media, PBS of censorship

Charlot Zahra

Far right party Azzjoni Nazzjonali (AN) leader Josie Muscat yesterday launched another tirade against the independent media and the public broadcaster PBS, accusing them of waging “a systematic campaign of censorship” against the recently-launched party.
Speaking during a press conference at the party’s headquarters in Sliema, Muscat specifically identified MaltaToday and The Times of being guilty, in his view, of censorship against AN.
Muscat claimed that the reply to a set of questions sent by MaltaToday asking for the party’s reaction to the memorandum issued by the Centre for Labour Studies had not been published by the newspaper, despite the fact that replies had been sent on time by AN secretary general Philip Beattie.
He accused The Times of ignoring his speech during a party activity on 10 August, reporting instead on the number of people present for the activity. “One can notice that The Times does not report the number of people present for similar activities organised by the other parties,” he charged.
Muscat also claimed that The Times failed to publish two opinion articles sent over three weeks ago by two AN officials, Dr Charles Attard, president of the party’s National Executive and Keith Caruana, international secretary.
“Instead, during the past few weeks, all we have seen published in this newspaper was a series of articles by Ministers, MPs and Nationalist Party apologists,” Muscat fumed.
However, Muscat’s longest diatribe was reserved for the Broadcasting Authority (BA), which, in his view, was not upholding the requirement set out in Article 119 (1) of the Constitution of Malta which stipulates that “broadcasting facilities and time are fairly apportioned between persons belonging to different political parties”.
He took exception to the BA’s decision to allow AN only a one-hour programme every week on Smash TV, while the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party have a television station apiece on a 24/7 basis.
Muscat warned that the party was ready to resort to “all legal means at its disposal” in order to ensure that the party’s message is spread to the Maltese people, including broadcasting from abroad.

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