Freedom of the Press
Press Freedom Score (0 = best, 100 = worst)
Legal Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Political Environment(0 = best, 40 = worst)
Economic Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
The constitution guarantees freedom of speech and of the press but also restricts these rights under a variety of circumstances. Malta bases its laws on the European model but is one of only three European Union members not to have freedom of information legislation. According to a recent survey conducted in June 2006 by Ernst & Young, television broadcasting suffers from a lack of quality with “too much teleshopping and not enough education,” as well as “mediocre copying” of foreign programs. Alarmed at the low quality of children’s programming on television, the government allocated 240,000 euros (US$327,824) to improve the local production of children’s programs. In addition, the Ministry of Culture issued directives aimed at increasing “program quality and offering better service to the public.” In December 2006, Lou Bondi, a television journalist for the country’s Public Broadcasting Services (PBS), complained to the Institute of Maltese Journalists that PBS forced him to change the subject of one of his shows. The subject of the show was former finance and foreign affairs minister John Dalli, who stepped down in 2004 over his alleged involvement in a scandal involving irregularities in the allocation of a hospital tender. The arrest of another individual in 2006 cleared the former minister’s name in this matter.
There are at least five daily and two weekly newspapers operating in both Maltese and English. Political parties, private investors, and the Catholic Church all have direct investments in broadcasting and print media that openly express partisan views. The only national television broadcaster is TVM, though the island also has access to Italian television, which many Maltese watch. Several domestic radio stations are regulated through the Broadcasting Authority of Malta. The government does not block the internet, which was accessed by 30 percent of the population in 2006.