New audio-visual media rules for internet news portals will impinge on Malta’s independent news’ ability to produce content freely in a landscape heavily polarized by party-owned media, EU expert Peter Aguis warned.

Malta’s Parliament is planning to fast-track the approval of new broadcasting laws that would prohibit online news and current affairs programmes from having sponsors, product placement or pop-up advertising, placing internet shows under the direct relegation of the state’s Broadcasting Authority.

Peter Agius warned against a ‘copy-paste’ of EU rules in favour of adaptations that consider Malta’s partisan-fuelled media landscape in order to promote pluralism and freedom.

Maltese legislators never fought for an exemption for Malta despite the island having a media landscape that is heavily in favour of traditional TV companies since they are either State-owned and State-funded or directly owned by political parties which sell advertising for political influence.

“The Directive was never meant to lead to such outcomes, but unfortunately we once again failed to pitch the national case at the European level”, he said.

The former MEP candidate sent his proposals involving the draft bill to the relevant house committee, which involves Minister Carmelo Abela, junior minister for equality Rosianne Cutajar and MP Jean Claude Micallef.

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