Here to stay

▪️ Here to stay ▪️ EU conundrums

Many rightly find it extremely intriguing that Simon Busuttil, who always insists we had a perfect world when the Nationalist cabal ruled over these islands, is so vehemently against the existence of party radio and TV stations. The parties’ political stations were, after all, an integral part of a much-welcomed pluralism exercise carried out in the early 1990s by the Eddie Fenech Adami administration.

The introduction of pluralism had the blessing of a vast majority of people, though there were sporadic reservations about the licences offered to the political parties. Obviously the idea was to relieve the pressure from the state broadcaster, Public Broadcasting Services, after many decades of turmoil and counter accusations, starting from the Rediffusion days when the colonial administrators ruled the roost in Gwardamanġa, to the popular nationalisation of the 70s, and the melodramatic idiocies of the 80s.

Something had to be done, and the Fenech Adami goverment bravely chose to do it. That both the Labour Party and Nationalist Party stations eventually came out on top of the rankings was hardly surprising, given their resources, the enthusiasm of their volunteers, and the national obsession with politics. Busuttil was not in diapers at the time but, like the rest of population, he was not voicing any concern over this paradigm shift in the field of broadcasting.

Inevitably, the huge popularity of the political stations started causing jitters among Establishment figures and other observers. Suffice to say that when Labour surprisingly beat Eddie Fenech Adami at the polls in 1996, most of his PN supporters insisted it was all the result of Labour’s then “Super 1” radio and TV channels. Did they have a point?

But then, in 1998, the Nationalist Party’s Net TV and Radio 101 stations had a field-day offering endless airtime to Dom Mintoff in his personal battle with the Alfred Sant administration, for the Nationalists to quickly regain power. Labour electoral gurus and Labourites in general pointed fingers at the Nationalist media outlets. Did they have a point?

In the meantime, the State broadcaster was steadily regaining lost territory, highlighted by the success of a challenging and innovative programme, Xarabank, run by a Joe (who soon became Peppi) Azzopardi and introduced well before the political crisis. Azzopardi’s skills were recognised by all and sundry and the programme went on to a much longer stretch than ever anticipated. By time, however, under a jubilant, new Fenech Adami administration, Azzopardi’s vehicle was clearly turning into a propaganda machine, manipulative, finely biased, and surreptitiously anti-Labour.

Fast forward into the first two decades of the 21st century and we find ourselves in a situation where while the party broadcasting trombones continue to play opposite notes, PBS has strongly kept its foothold in the field. There is a sense of balance in all of this. Let the parties and other private broadcasters have their jolies choses, while PBS continues to make marked inroads into the local viewing scene at a time when the traditional role of television as a medium in the world has transitioned somewhat, in the hope of competing with the social media sensation still eating away the new generations.

Now out comes Simon Busuttil pontificating about the need to have the political stations closed down. Of course, at heart he would have rather insisted someone closed the Labour stations, but his German tutors must have put into him the notion of trying to look fair and just when you really are trying to rake things about.

Simon Busuttil

He has never been too persuasive with the public, having been the second victim (out of three) of an embarrassing record electoral defeat. Love them or hate them, people still find political refuge in the parties’ stations and it is highly unlikely Busuttil’s half-hearted dabbling would have any impact. Not as long as PBS retains its established popularity with people of all political colours and hues. I guess both One TV and Net TV are here to stay, Simon. Go back to keeping Manfred cosy.

EU conundrums

The EU has never really been seen as a very coherent organisation. It is often difficult to comprehend many of its policies, decisions, rules, and regulations, all of which nicely fitted into one-size-fits-all packages. It gets even worse when it comes to dealing with foreign affairs issues. That is when the sweet la la la comes to a comic halt. Take the issue of Russian news outlets banned immediately after Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. For all the smart talk about SLAPP and the sacred freedom of expression – that carries with it the freedom to read, listen to and view any source you want – you switch on to RT with your Melita or Go remote control and get nothing but a note politely telling you of the server’s inability to provide the service.

Europe doesn’t want you to listen to Russian propaganda, even if you know it does not influence you in any way, but you have the right to watch it. I do not want to take the EU’s word for it, I want to see the propaganda, laugh at it, see it as it really is – propaganda – and stop dictating to me what I should watch and what I shouldn’t. But there was hardly a single MEP who objected to this vicious way of treating European citizens when it comes to watching and listening to news, reading newspapers, and accessing electronic outlets.

You can only read the billionaire-owned, politician-fed Western propaganda. What a SLAPP in the face.

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