29 October 2003

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Mixed feelings on Gatt’s harsh PBS remarks

By Kurt Sansone
If the ‘reform-or-bust’ statements made by Minister Austin Gatt have created a state of unease among PBS employees and independent TV producers, not the same can be said of advertising agencies.
The general feeling in the advertising sector is that government would not go through with its threat to close down PBS. People in the sector have described Minister Gatt’s remarks as a sweeping statement and are almost certain that for "political reasons" government would not dismantle the national broadcaster.
On the contrary, it is advertising agencies with audio-visual facilities that would stand to benefit from the new set up, The Malta Financial and Business Times was told.
With a more extensive policy to outsource TV productions, it is the independent production houses that would get a boost.
Preparations for new programmes to kick off in the January schedule normally start three months before but the uncertainty of the future of PBS has left TV producers in the dark, at least for the time being.

It is still unclear whether current contracts will be renewed or terminated and whether new contracts will be signed in time.
Last week the GWU, Ministry officials and company managers met for the first time to discuss the reforms. But what happens after January is still unknown and depends heavily on whether agreement is reached on a new collective agreement and the reduction of around 130 employees.
Meanwhile, speaking yesterday in Parliament, Government Investments Minister Austin Gatt said that the PBS chief executive officer did not offer his resignation and neither was he asked to resign. Dr Gatt was answering a parliamentary question by Labour MP Leo Brincat.
kurt@maltamag.com



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Editor: Saviour Balzan
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