Current Affairs
PBS has shown that public broadcasting is a living and respected source, and one of confidence for audiences – EBU Director General

European Broadcasting Union Director General Noel Curran has stated that PBS has shown public broadcasting is not dead, and as is being demonstrated during this pandemic, is a respected source and one of confidence for audiences.

Mr Curran made his statement during a public consultation session on improving broadcasting quality, in the course of which PBS Chairperson Carmen Sammut stated that public broadcasting improves by adapting to digital and social changes; whilst Minister Carmelo Abela explained how suggestions made today will pave the way for the necessary changes in national broadcasting.

Producers, broadcasters and creative artists in the broadcasting sector got together in a conference organised by the Minister within the Prime Minister’s Office, Carmelo Abela, in collaboration with PBS with the aim of strengthening the quality of national broadcasting, including though changes within PBS itself and in the processes and procedures relating to choice of programmes.

“This is why we listen to stakeholders, just as we listen to the staff themselves, in order to carry out the necessary changes within the organisation; this will allow us to meet the challenges we are facing today, as in the case of digital platforms, as we should not just speak of TV and radio but also about online and open competition.”

Minister Abela added that this process will identify obligations of national broadcasting which are not being given sufficient importance, and will discuss how to create a balance between quality, public obligations and the commercial aspect, whilst strengthening the potential to create a content with international appeal both for foreigners living in Malta, the Maltese diaspora, as well as commercial opportunities on other audiovisual platforms.

PBS Chairperson Professor Carmen Sammut stated that through this exercise national broadcasting has to adapt to digital and social changes and also boost quality.

“We have to make an evaluation of what we are producing, ensure we are strengthening quality, see that we are more efficient in what we are doing, and above all strengthen professionalism, which is why we have a training programme which will be offered to both staff and other stakeholders, and today’s seminar was with production houses.”

Professor Sammut further stated that the success of PBS depends on the success of productions broadcast on its stations, and this is part of the consultation process for the company and broadcasting to be strengthened.

EBU Director General Noel Curran stated the pandemic had shown that although public stations in Europe are often described as dinosaurs, PBS is a clear example that it is still a respected source for information and is recognising how it can continue to change and strengthen itself.

“I think we saw with PBS in Malta the audiences increased, the news output increased, people have trust in your output and I think you had a fantastic response and now you are working with us we need to move and built on that in the years ahead and I think we can.”

Broadcasting Authority Chairman Frank Farrugia stated that the information imparted by broadcasters battles with fake news, and stressed this is one of the ingredients which makes for quality broadcasting, which in turn distinguishes itself from information given on social media. Mr Farrugia added that whilst PBS has better resources than other media services, its responsibilities are far wider in order to maintain impartiality, objectivity and balance.

During the four workshops, many recommendations were made which are expected to be considered in the renewal process for PBS and in the quality of future transmissions of public broadcasting.