Thursday, 5 February 2009

Times: No way to deal with sensitive topics
Thursday, 5th February 2009 by Edward Scerri, Nadur

I must say I used to watch Xarabank more often in the past, but year after year, I have noticed that the programme is not discussing most of the sensitive subjects it puts forward in an objective way. One such case was the edition broadcast on January 30 where the subject was homosexuality and the Catholic Church. I do not know whether I was fortunate to switch my television to TVM on that occasion, but I would have done without the spectacle which ensued.

I was disgusted by the unbalanced way the panel was composed. The teachings of the Church with respect to homosexuality were left in the able hands of Fr Anton Gouder. However, he was surrounded by a panel which was intent in not allowing Fr Gouder to objectively present the public with the facts regarding the teachings of the Church on homosexuality.

Furthermore, the questions raised in the interview of the Archbishop were more intended to put him on the defensive. If the panel was totally unbalanced, what can one say about the way the programme was conducted and the composition of the studio audience?

Do the producers of Xarabank want to discuss sensitive subjects objectively to impart the correct information to viewers, with the latter being allowed to form an opinion based on an informative programme? Or do they want to drive home in the minds of the viewers a pre-baked (half-baked) judgment?

One may be tempted to advise the Church not to send its representative for such sensitive discussions until Xarabank and similar programmes are put on a level platform. However, in the end, the Church cannot leave its place in the forum empty for it to be taken up by someone else who would perhaps pose as its representative without presenting its correct teachings.

Ultimately, anyone can conclude whether a programme is biased in the way it progresses, and whether a person is giving factual information and whether other persons are simply attacking in a desperate attempt to discredit and to take the airtime of those whom they consider as their "opponent".

A final word to Xarabank producers. If they intend to lend high quality and not just quantity to their programme, they should keep in mind that they have an enormous responsibility on their shoulders when putting such sensitive subjects up for "discussion".

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