Malta Political Orientation
Government Type: Unitary State and Parliamentary Republic
Head of State: President George Vella (largely symbolic post)
Head of Government: Prime Minister Robert Abela
Political Party: Labour Party (Partit Laburista, PL)
Political Position: Center-left
MBFC’s Country Freedom Rating: 74.38 – Mostly Free
World Press Freedom Rank: Malta 84/180
In 2017, Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated in a car bomb attack. Although the investigation led to PM Joseph Muscat’s resignation in 2019, Reporters Without Borders draws attention to “interference, police cover-up and collusion with criminals.” They further state, “the case against the alleged mastermind remained stalled in court procedures.”
Media Ownership and Government Analysis
In Malta, the government dominates the media landscape through Public Broadcasting Services Limited (PBS), the state broadcaster of Malta. Malta Television (TVM) is the most popular TV station, and the most popular radio station is Magic Malta. The government funds both.
Two main political parties dominate privately-owned media. The Nationalist Party (center-right) has a media arm through Media Link Communications, which owns NET TV, Radio 101, newspapers the In-Nazzjon and Il-Mument (Sunday Newspaper), and the website maltarightnow.com. The other main party is the center-left Labour Party (Partit Laburista, PL) which owns One TV (Malta) and One Radio through its media arm, One Productions Limited.
The official religion of Malta is the Roman Apostolic Catholic Church, and its media influence is powerful. For example, until it was abolished in 2016, as stated by (Article 163) “vilification of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Religion” was punishable by imprisonment. Further, the Roman Apostolic Catholic Church owns media through Beacon Media Group Ltd. The church manages the radio station 103 Malta’s Heart, the news portal Newsbook.com.mt, and the newspaper Il-Leħen. Furthermore, defamation is still punishable by fines or imprisonment.
In summary, propaganda is the norm due to government-owned public broadcasters, the Catholic Church, and two major political parties dominating the media landscape. Finally, the fact that an investigative journalist was subject to assassination by big business and politicians indicates Malta is unsafe for journalists, which increases the likelihood of self-censorship.
Last Updated on May 13, 2023 by Media Bias Fact Check
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