NEWS | Sunday, 18 November 2007

After the Greens, Josie applies for cable television station as well

Charlot Zahra

Rightist party Azzjoni Nazzjonali (AN) has followed in the footsteps of Green party Alternattiva Demokratika (AD) and has applied with the Broadcasting Authority (BA) to operate its own cable television station after, it said, the Authority failed to address the problems of lack of balance in public broadcasting raised by the party in recent months.
Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters in Sliema yesterday, party leader Josie Muscat lamented that the BA, “composed of the representatives of the two parties represented in Parliament, is not in a position to ensure that the public hears all political views in the country to be able to make a better choice when it comes to vote. The current controversy within public broadcasting is a clear sign of this.
“Azzjoni Nazzjonali is therefore applying for a television station to be able to broadcast its views to the Maltese people, as democracy requires,” Muscat said.
He warned that if the party was not granted a licence for a television station “within a reasonable period of time in view of the impending general election”, it was ready to broadcast from abroad “like the Nationalist Party did in the past when it felt that that, despite all the means that it had, it felt that it couldn’t reach the people of Malta and Gozo”.
Muscat, who fought the political battles of the seventies and eighties at the forefront of the Nationalist Party, said: “AN feels it is really a pity that after the PN’s harsh battle for freedom of expression in the past, nowadays the country is facing a similar situation in some respects… it seems that we have not learnt the lessons from our past.”
He also claimed that “there is no really independent press” in Malta as otherwise, there would have been a reaction by journalists and columnists to Professor John C Lane’s letter to The Sunday Times recently about the Constitutional amendments in Parliament recently.
In his letter published on 4 November, in reaction to Lino Spiteri’s statement in his column on October 14, Prof. Lane explained that there is no maximum limit of the number of Members of the House of Representatives that can be elected; the law only gives an example of a 73-Member legislature.
Maltese electoral law only offers proportionality to the major parties after all other voter preferences have already been discarded. “A smaller party could gather 10 to 15 per cent in any one or every district and still receive no representation. If there were real proportionality, ten per cent of the vote would secure some six seats in 65-member House,” Lane wrote.
“Given the current election law’s protection of the two major parties’ exclusive representation, it would probably take a split of one of them to break the pattern of one-party governments. Without such an unlikely upheaval, Malta seems destined to remain the only western European country with only two parties represented in the legislature,” the eminent professor concluded his letter.

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