ENLARGED PRESS ETHICS COMMISSION HAS NEW CHAIRMAN

Press Release No.: 13/2010
Date: 9 June 2010

The Institute of Maltese Journalists today announced the formation of a new Press Ethics Commission – Malta (PEC), including a new chairman, while retaining the format of the outgoing commission.

Addressing a press conference at the IGM’s premises in Valletta, the institute’s chairman, Malcolm J. Naudi, said that, following the premature resignation of the PEC in 2009, led by Professor Kevin Aquilina, the IGM had embarked on a lengthy process that took several months to set up a new commission.

The new commission is to be composed of ten members, including the chairman (see bottom of this PR), and the PEC’s term should be for a period of one year, starting on 1 May, 2010.

Mr Naudi thanked Professor Aquilina for his brief tenure and the outgoing members of the PEC. “The IGM Council accepted their resignation with regret,” he added.

While introducing Dr Kevin Dingli to the media, Mr Naudi said that his first task is to get the PEC working again, tackling a number of pending cases, but in the coming months it will be working on suggesting changes to the Code of Ethics for the IGM Council and members to approve, apart from indicating the way forward.

“I urge anyone contemplating making a complaint to the Commission to consider seriously the implications of their decision. Complainers have several options, including taking court action, and making a complaint to the PEC should not be seen as the cheaper option but the most effective one,” Mr Naudi said.

Among the changes that are being contemplated are a move from a Press Ethics Commission to a Media Ethics Commission, since complaints do not relate solely to the press but to all media. The IGM also intends to take a lead to bring about a harmonisation among the various codes of ethics in the country, whether they are those of individual stations/media houses, political parties or the Broadcasting Authority.

“The IGM calls on all the various authorities to come together to eliminate confusion among the public and build a universal code of ethics that can be applied across all media. This will not only make life easier for journalists but ensure that the public can obtain equal remedy whatever the medium and individual media house concerned,” Mr Naudi said.

All complaints to the PEC must be addressed to:

The Secretary
Press Ethics Commission – Malta
PO Box 21
Marsa GPO 01
Malta

The Press Ethics Commission can also be contacted via e-mail at pecmalta@gmail.com.

A Short Historical Overview of the PEC

Since its foundation, the Institute of Maltese Journalists (IGM) has endeavoured to upgrade journalism in Malta. Ethics, together with Education and Professionalisation, were identified as the three principles the IGM should pursue to achieve this objective.

In November 1991, following various meeting between the IGM (then known as The Malta Press Club) and the now defunct Institute of Broadcasters, a code of journalistic ethics was launched, following approval by the members of both organisations. That Code, launched during a press conference on 11 November 1991, provided for the setting up of the Journalistic Ethics Council, which was to be the precursor of the present Press Ethics Commission (PEC).

In February 1996, a policy document prepared by former TMPC Education and Information Secretary, Carmel Bonello, was presented during a seminar for all Maltese journalists. Among others, this document put forward new concepts for the promotion of journalistic ethics, including guidelines for submission and handling of complaints, as well as for a revision of the former Journalistic Ethics Council. The document suggested the setting up of a body called the Press Ethics Commission (PEC) and its composition.

The new PEC became operational in January 1999 under the chairmanship of Notary Myriam Spiteri Debono. In 2001, the Chief Justice Emeritus, Professor Giuseppe Mifsud Bonnici, was appointed Chairman. In 2006 Joe Cordina was appointed Secretary. In April, 2009, Dr Kevin Aquilina was appointed Chairman but resigned on 30 July, 2009, after a PEC decision was leaked to the media. In May, 2010, Dr Kevin Dingli was appointed Chairman.

The Press Ethics Commission is currently composed of:

Chairman: Dr Kevin Dingli

Members: Charles Abela Mizzi
Fr Colin Apap
Tony Barbaro Sant
Dr Claire Bonello
Victor Formosa
Laurence Grech
John Inguanez
Dr Anna Mallia
Dr Carmen Sammut

Secretary: Joe Cordina

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