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In "craven act of self-censorship," website bans political reporting ahead of general elections

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a media release of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), an IFJ regional group:

European Journalists Condemns "Self-Censorship" as Maltese Web Portal Imposes Ban on Politics

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the regional organisation of the International Federation of Journalists, today condemned a Maltese news web portal for its decision to ban political coverage and commentary.

"We are shocked that a major media outlet would ban political reporting right before the general elections," said EFJ General Secretary Aidan White. "It is a craven act of self-censorship at a critical time when the public needs reliable political coverage to be able to make informed decisions on the elections. Cutting political news is a shocking violation of responsibility."

The web portal is a popular source of news in Malta, owned by telecommunications company GO, which is in turn owned by Tecom Investments of Dubai. The company recently posted a notice on its web site saying that "as a result of new corporate policy, will not, for the foreseeable future, cover political activities and statements as part of its day-to-day operations."

GO has not provided any further comment on the decision. The EFJ is supporting a protest by the Maltese journalists' community, which has condemned this attempt to silence the press.

"We hope you realise your company's decision is a disservice to your own customers, to the Maltese public in general and to political parties that need journalists to disseminate and analyse their programmes before our country is called to vote," the Journalists' Committee and the Institute of Maltese Journalists said in a joint letter to GO's chairman.

The EFJ represents over 260,000 journalists in over 30 countries in Europe.

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