Broadcasting Authority Annual Report 2009
On Friday 4th June 2010 the Annual Report of the Broadcasting Authority for the year ending 31st December 2009 was laid on the table of the House of Representatives for approval by Parliament. And at the same Parliament Sitting an act was passed amending the Broadcasting Act, Cap. 350 with the implementation of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive of the European Union.
The Members of the Broadcasting Authority were reappointed for a period of two years with effect from 1st January 2009 while a new Chief Executive, Mr Pierre Cassar, assumed his responsibilities with effect from 1st March 2009 following the resignation of the previous incumbent Dr Kevin Aquilina who had resigned to take up a full-time academic post at the University of Malta.
Following its reappointment the Authority draw up a strategic plan to guide its operations during its two years of appointment establishing various objectives and outputs addressing the following needs:
- the need to enhance the role, and indeed the public perception, of the Authority from that of an organisation that is primarily tasked to police the broadcasting stations in their adherence to broadcasting legislation to that of an organisation that should also have an important role in the improvement of broadcasting standards and in the protection of listeners and televiewers as consumers.
Accordingly, the Authority has established an outreach programme for a better and more direct system of communication with the local audiovisual industry. In this context a number of structured meetings have already been held with representatives of the industry on various topics (e.g. community radio stations, advertising and teleshopping legislation).
Also in this context, the Authority intends to carry out an exercise to ensure that listeners and televiewers are being treated fairly in their interaction with broadcasters, for example when responding to invitations to use premium telephone lines and when participating in competitions.
- the need to adapt the organisational structure of the Authority to enable it to cope with current developments in local and European broadcasting, particularly the transposition into Maltese legislation, and its subsequent application, of the new EU Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS) Directive and the switchover to digital television, currently scheduled for end-December 2010.
In this respect, draft amendments to the Broadcasting Act, including a number of draft Legal Notices to enable the transposition of the above-mentioned Directive were proposed and submitted to the responsible Minister in February 2009. These amendments were approved by Parliamentary on 4th June 2010 with the publication of Act 4 of 2010 and Legal Notices 320 to 326 effecting the principal act and:
- the substitution of the Third Schedule of the Broadcasting Act – the Code for Advertisements, Teleshopping and Sponsorship for radio and television broadcasts;
- amendments of the Broadcasting Jurisdiction and European Co-operation Regulations;
- amendments of the Broadcasting Short-News Reporting Regulations;
- amendments of the Code for the Protection of Minors; and
- amendments of the Broadcasting Authority Enforcement posers Regulations.
These became effective as from 1st June 2010. The Fifth Schedule of the Broadcasting Act, Cap 350 was also amended to include the new provisions of Act 4 of 2010. Previous amendments to the Broadcasting Act were passed by parliament on 15th May 2009 dealing with Satellite Radio and Television Programme Content Services.
With regard to the digital switchover process, the Authority had, in November 2009, submitted to Government a draft of the proposed amendments to the Broadcasting Act to enable this process of transition and it is hoped that these amendments will be enacted in the near future. The Authority has now also circulated to interested parties a consultation document which, inter alia, proposes the criteria that interested television broadcasters would have to satisfy to qualify for a General Interest Objective (GIO) broadcasting status and therefore to carriage on a free-to-air basis on the proposed GIO network.
This year, the Authority’s operations also included the organisation and transmission of political broadcasts for the EU Parliamentary Elections which were held on June 6th 2009. Under Article 13(4) of the Broadcasting Act, such broadcasts are the prerogative of the Broadcasting Authority to ensure the fair apportionment of broadcasting facilities and time between the different political parties represented in parliament while giving access to persons from different interest groups with different points of view. Following consultations with all the five political parties contesting these elections, agreement was reached by all the parties concerned [PN, PL, AD, AN, and ALDM] and these included party productions, political spots and five political debates all of which were broadcast on TVM.
The Authority’s Annual Report 2009 can be downloaded from: http://www.ba-malta.org/annual_report_2009
Mario Axiak B.A. (Hons.), M.B.A. (Maastricht)
Head Research & Communications
11th June 2010