Education and Culture Minister Dolores Cristina has made a clean sweep of the new PBS Board of Directors, reappointing only two members of the previous Board chaired by Joe Fenech Conti.
The new chairman, Clare Thake Vassallo, a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Arts at the University of Malta who specialises in communications theory, has been on the PBS Board of Directors since 2000.
In 2005, she was responsible for a review of children’s programmes on TVM.
Asked by this newspaper about her vision for PBS, Vassallo’s initial response was cautious: “As you know my appointment has only just been announced. I feel it would be correct to first meet with the newly appointed Board of Directors, as well as with the Editorial Board, before I give any public comments,” she told MaltaToday.
The other Board members are financial consultant Joseph G. P. Bonello who started out as a journalist, followed by a stint as a teacher; Josef N. Grech, a pharmacist by profession who obtained a Masters degree in management and science, currently Group Chief Executive Officer at Malta University Holdings Ltd; and Lara Tonna, a physical education teacher and a part-time lecturer at the University of Malta and a member of the National Council of Women.
Finally, Isabelle Gatt, a lecturer in creative arts at the University of Malta, who had previously served on the boards of the St James’ Cavalier Centre for Creativity and the National Council for Culture and the Arts. In 2005, Gatt was appointed as PBS board member.
Under Fenech Conti’s tenure, the Board of Directors exacerbated the dispute with the PBS Editorial Board, with the PBS management overriding the Editorial Board’s decisions, even in news and current affairs programming, leading to the controversial resignation of the Editorial Board chairman John Camilleri in August last year.
The Editorial Board remained without a chairman till a few weeks ago, when Cristina appointed a new Editorial Board composed of appointed former BA Chairman Joe Pirotta as Chairman, together with veteran journalist Charles Mizzi and University professor Maryanne Lauri, the only member of the previous board to be re-confirmed.
The new PBS Board of Directors now also has Malta’s participation in the Eurovision Song Contest under his remit, which was previously under the responsibility of the MaltaSong Board, which has been disbanded completely in a bold move by Cristina.
This decision came after three consecutive dismal performers by Malta’s entries for the ESC under MaltaSong Chairman Robert Abela, whose private adventures while forming part of the Maltese delegation at this year’s ESC in Belgrade ended up in the weekend papers.