[02/08] Launching of the Broadcasting Authority's Broadcasting Studies Series(17/01/2008)

Press Release 02/08

Launching of the Broadcasting Authority's Broadcasting Studies Series

The Broadcasting Authority has just launched its series of publications entitled 'Broadcasting Studies Series'. The first volume in this series - co-authored by Dr. Kevin Aquilina, Broadcasting Authority's Chief Executive and Mr. Mario Axiak, Broadcasting Authority's Head of Research and Communications - is called Maltese Broadcasting Legislation: Salient Documentation. The second book in this series - authored by Mario Axiak - will deal with a consumer profile of the viewer and listener of television and radio programmes.

The first book in the series - Maltese Broadcasting Legislation: Salient Documentation - is an indispensable book for all those persons involved in the media, especially in the audio-visual sector.  It brings together in one separate volume all the salient laws and other relevant documents which regulate or are of interest to Maltese broadcasting. The authors have had the arduous task to identify the most important laws and documentation on the subject under review for the purpose of inclusion in this volume.
Furthermore, this publication contains relevant supplementary material which though it cannot be said to be binding in Malta, it is still of authoritative value to the Maltese broadcasting landscape.

The need has been felt for quite some time to publish a volume containing the salient laws and documents used by the broadcasting regulator in its day-to-day activities to carry out its lawful functions. Yet this publication, notwithstanding the fact that it runs into 534 pages of text, still does not encapsulate all the relevant broadcasting materials. Indeed, various other materials have not been printed in this book but are nevertheless still being made available to the reader on the accompanying compact disk which is of value to media personnel.

Book Contents

This book mainly deals with the pertinent broadcasting legislation and some documents which shed light upon these laws. One of the challenges that a regulator constantly faces when carrying out his/her duties is to know where to find the law. But the law might not always be easily readily available or one might not recollect in which enactment the provision in question is found. Unfortunately, contrary to what one may think, the broadcasting law of Malta is not found only in the Broadcasting Act, Chapter 350 of the Laws of Malta, but it is spread throughout the statute book. The highest law of the archipelago - the Constitution of Malta - is our starting point in this voyage to discover where to find Maltese broadcasting law. It is the Constitution which establishes the Broadcasting Authority itself and sets out its constitutional duty of guarantor of impartiality in the broadcasting media. However, as the Constitution has only two specific provisions on the establishment and functions of the Authority, the Constitution itself empowers Parliament to assign various other non-constitutional legal functions to the Authority. Hence, the Broadcasting Act was enacted setting out the additional duties of the Authority. There are other laws that refer to the Broadcasting Authority even if such laws are not strictly speaking administered by the Authority itself. Such is the case, for instance, of the Press Act and the European Union Act. Not only so, but there are various subsidiary laws, irrespective of whether they are made under the Broadcasting Act or under any other law, which bestow duties upon the Authority. Moreover, there are government policy documents such as the National Broadcasting Policy that refer to the Broadcasting Authority.

This book is divided into twelve parts and an Appendix. Part I provides the text of the Constitution of Malta's provisions on the Broadcasting Authority and the entire text of the Broadcasting Act. These provisions undoubtedly contain the legislative framework for the Authority's functions. Part II gives the reader all the subsidiary laws made under the Broadcasting Act which to-date number to twenty-nine sets of distinct and separate secondary legislation. Subsidiary legislation comes in different forms and ranges from Codes to Regulations and from Orders to Requirements. The latter are then divided into two categories: requirements as to standards and practice and requirements as to advertisements, methods of advertising and directions. Other relevant subsidiary legislation to broadcasting - though not made under the Broadcasting Act - follows in Part III whilst Part IV reproduces the text of one Government Notice also made under the Broadcasting Act, namely, the list of major events.

From time to time the Broadcasting Authority issues directives in terms of article 15 of the Broadcasting Act to both radio and television broadcasting stations. These directives tend to be connected to the Authority's broadcasting political mandate and are usually made for a specific duration. This book provides the text in Part V of four directives related to general elections, a referendum, European Union Parliamentary Elections, together with a directive on the latest FIFA World Cup.

Apart from the above laws and regulations which bind all broadcasting stations, the Authority draws up from time to time non-binding guidelines.
Currently there are six such guidelines intended to assist stations in producing good quality programming. Such are, for instance, the Guidelines for Audio-Visual Programme Content Created for Children. It is with pleasure to note that the Minister for Tourism and Culture has adopted these Guidelines as mandatory for the Public Service Broadcaster. One particular set of guidelines on medicinal advertising - which is not included in this publication - is in the process of being updated. The text of these guidelines is reproduced in Part VI.

Part VII consists of some recent circulars addressed to broadcasting stations. The Broadcasting Authority communicates with all radio and television services through circulars. These circulars come in different forms. There are those - which are not reproduced in this book - which are of day-to-day ordinary administration (such as Enemalta Corporation announcements as to power cuts at the Authority's Transmitting Station at Gharghur or when the Authority notifies the Gharghur Tranmitting Tower users of maintenance work on the said Tower) as well as more relevant circulars which consist in the communication of Authority Directives to stations or which deal with policy issues (such as how the Authority interprets a specific provision of the law) or how the Authority has applied a provision of a law to a specific programme.

Part VIII of this publication provides the text of the Authority's schemes of political broadcasts as well as its policy on ministerial broadcasts and anniversary messages.  The main documentation relevant to the public service broadcaster and to digital terrestrial broadcasting is set out in Part IX whilst Part X contains historic material which sheds light on the evolution of the Broadcasting Act. Part XI deal with principal materials concerning the European Union's Television Without Frontiers Directive while Part XII provides the text of the Council of Europe's European Convention on Transfrontier Television.

The Appendix of this publication provides the Table of Contents of the accompanying compact disk which contains other relevant material to broadcasting which could not be published in this book due to lack of space.

It is augured that this publication will serve as an indispensable tool for all those persons who are directly or indirectly involved in the audiovisual sector.

Mario Axiak


16th January, 2008 

Head, Research &   Communications,



Broadcasting Authority