Ghax Malta Taghna Lkoll – the shamelessness of it

Published: June 26, 2013 at 9:04pm

Norman Vella

Norman Vella, whose magazine-format show TVHemm made for generally interesting viewing every Monday to Friday, has been summarily fired without warning from his show at the state broadcaster and ordered not to report for work as from Monday.

Vella’s show is extremely popular: it gets the third highest audience figures of anything on TVM.

He is not employed directly with the state broadcaster, but is a civil servant who was redeployed there, as clearly his particular gifts are in that field and not in pushing papers at some desk. He is also the creator of the TVM biography show ‘Bijografiji’, which was widely viewed and recently won an award.

In other words, what this boils down to is yet another vindictive transfer, but one with significance for Norman Vella’s large audience and the station he worked for, and not only for him.

Vella told The Malta Independent that the order came directly from the Office of the Prime Minister, and not in a letter but in an email which told him to return to his original government department “on grounds of public policy”. He described the decision as “political”.

You see, this is one other reason I believe Lou Bondi should not have accepted that appointment on the National Festivities Commission: those who sup with the devil need a very long spoon.

A couple of weeks after announcing Lou’s appointment, they stab his long-standing colleague Norman in the back and throat, and in the worst way possible – an email without warning, saying ‘don’t report for work at the station from Monday’.

Put simply, you cannot trust the indecent to be decent. Decency and indecency are neither episodic nor person-and-situation-relevant. They are states of fact. I am not here to give lessons in human nature and psychology, but basically, the beyond-indecent behaviour of Joseph Muscat and those around him, pre and post election, tells us that they are beyond-indecent people.

This means they will behave really badly towards anyone who has to be dispensed with or who gets in their way, with neither scruples nor conscience.

Politics aside, the main reason why it is a very bad idea to work for those who manifest vicious spite and vindictiveness towards those who get in their way is the certain knowledge that when you get in their way it will happen to you too.

People in Lou Bondi’s position (and mine, I suppose) are faced with just three choices: to cooperate with them, remain mistrusted, but take great care to keep them happy; to bow out of the scene and avoid any involvement whatsoever; or, to fight back while saying ‘bring it on and do your worst’.

The Prime Minister personally put Lou on that commission. Now the Prime Minister personally has fired Lou’s friend and colleague, in a reprehensible manner, purely out of political spite because there is no way anyone can suggest that Norman Vella’s skills and talents are best used at a desk in a government department while being lost to television.

I think Lou Bondi only has one course of action before him, really, and he should take it. I know I would. I would rather starve in a gutter than have anything to do with such awful people.

What they’ve just done to Norman they will do to Lou as and when they see fit. I wouldn’t wait around for it to happen. And I certainly wouldn’t be having a smile and a friendly chat with somebody who did that to a friend and close colleague, or taking his calls – yes, even if he is the prime minister.

59 Comments Comment

  1. Alexander Ball says:

    I guess the easy answer is to put it on NET TV.

    [Daphne – He’ll have to resign from the civil service first.]

  2. Gahan says:

    Now we’ll have Bundy.

  3. C. Fenech says:

    Dear Daphne, what did you expect, remember his shows before the March General Election attacking all that is said by the PL. I think it’s about time.

    [Daphne – If they did, I never noticed. And I rather suspect that I am brighter than you are.]

  4. Socrates says:

    The firm belief of the former Mintoffian regime to silence non-Labour media and journalists is reflected in this absurd PL decision. Shame on PL.

    • Tabatha White says:

      “First you do not write what you think, then you do not say what you think, and finally you do not think what you think.”

  5. Hsieb tar-Ronnie says:

    Not surprised at all…..under the Nationalists people grumble because they do not obtain what is not theirs by right.

    They grumble because instead of 10 euros they may earn 8 euros.

    Under Labour people sigh with relief because instead of ten slaps on their faces they are given 8 slaps. This is the tragedy of this country.

    There is absolutely no comparison between people’s expectations of democracy, decency and fair play under the Nationalists and their expectations under Labour.

    This government is and will continue getting away with murder. The responsibility of the press to open, first of all its own eyes, and then that of its readers is fundamental if we are to “move on”, a term that unfortunately has been prostituted by the Labour Party.

  6. Klara says:

    ”Tista’ ma taqbilx maghna, imma tista’ tahdem maghna” – Joseph Muscat.

    Ghal min kien qed jghid? Ghal dawk li dehru fuq il-billboards? Dawk li jahdmu is-Super One?

  7. Stingray says:

    I cannot believe what I’m reading. You are defending the most mediocre person in local television history. Good riddance to Peppi’s ventroliquist puppet. More to come Daphne!

    [Daphne – You Labour people are so very unpleasant. I have always thought the main motivating factor in voting Labour is spite, whether those doing it know it or not. I rarely encounter any evidence to the contrary.]

    • maryanne says:

      Who will be replacing him? Another mediocre person, I suppose.

    • Malta Taghhom Ilkoll says:

      Well said Daphne, spite and vengeance is their main driving force.

      Their pre-election campaign was built on hatred towards people who can do a better job.

      They festered the idea that these people were part of a diabolical clique led by a devious PM.

      They don’t give a hoot to the consequences or results of their actions as long as they chop heads and fuel more hatred.

      Taking on people like Lou Bondi is nothing short of a smokescreen so that keep claiming that they are all embracing but very few people are aware of what is happening behind the scenes and the ruthless manner in which they are dealing with people.

    • Min Weber says:

      I disagree with you Daphne, and agree with Stingay.

      Norman Vella is mediocre, and the programme was beyond his abilities.

      He annoyed viewers.

      • La Redoute says:

        Did he, really? Why did they watch?

      • dwinu says:

        When they attack a person it means that his programme is watched by thousands of people, like Xarabank (for all it’s worth). Seems that they hate positive criticism. And they are in for many a plenty of it.

        You can kill the body but you can never destroy ideas. Who said it?

      • P. Busuttil says:

        @Min Weber. Do you know that about 2 wks ago his programm TVHEMM won the 3rd place in live programm show on PBS?

        If he is mediocre, beyong his abilities and annoyed viewers, how come?

    • Tinu says:

      Stingray, you Labour followers really astonish me! Norman Vella runs a program on TVM which is one of the most popular with viewers, and you call him mediocre.

      The old saying ‘Min jahsel ras il-hmar jahli l-ilma u s-sapun’ is really appropriate for people like you.

  8. Galian says:

    Over to you, Lou.

  9. Dott Abjad says:

    Since TVHEMM was produced by WHERESEVERYBODY, why didn’t WHERESEVERYBODY just recruit him within their ranks, thereby eliminating such a possible scenario?

    [Daphne – That wouldn’t have helped. Where’s Everybody works for the state broadcaster, which can choose not to buy in new shows when the contracts on this season’s shows run out. In fact the company issued a statement some weeks ago saying that it had given notice to all its employees.]

    • Dott Abjad says:

      True, PBS can choose not to re-assign shows it had in the past, just like it can choose to not re-assign, or buy into shows like Xarabank or Bondi+ again.

      But if Norman Vella was an employee of Where’s Everybody, or even a director (I would have considered roping him in due to his astuteness, smart approach and magnetism), PBS would (or might) have thought twice before snubbing Where’s Everybody which now seem to pledge allegiance to the new administration.

      It does not surprise me in the least that Labour have axed him most unceremoniously. As you say, it stems from crass indecency. But Where’s Everybody, oh boy, to me that was a serious tactical mistake. Tell me, does that stem from crass opportunism, or what?

  10. Socrates says:

    Lou Bondi has one way to choose: resign from the V-18 without further delay. If not, Lou’s pre-electoral media activities will practically lose their meaning. Moreover, solidarity with and supporting his colleague should be implemented without hesitation.

  11. maryanne says:

    Min hu mejjet ghal-qatra…..and Tony Meilaq gets two chairmanships.

    “Apart from stating that as part of a plan he drew up, the WSC, being one of the main stakeholders of ARMS Ltd, should be entrusted to take over the collection of utility bills, Mr Mizzi said the need also arose to appoint the chairman of the WSC as chairman of ARMS Ltd with the aim of enhancing coordination between the boards of both the WSC and ARMS, which should result in a more effective implementation strategy.”

    Tony Meilaq appointed ARMS Ltd chairman as from today – The … › News

  12. dudu says:

    Will someone correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t Norman one of the most vociferous supporters of Abela during the MLP leadership campaign which was won by Muscat?

    Probably, in Muscat’s mind that’s worse than being an ex-supporter of Gonzi as Prime Minister because wat the hek are journalists expected to do if not serving either the Prime Minister or the leader of the opposition.

  13. Taghna Lkoll says:

    Interesting point about Lou. They have attacked one of his own and the attack came directly from the office that last week appointed him.

    Surely he should realise that these are all veiled messages and threats and he should do the honourable thing – stick by Norman and shove the appointment up the PM’s behind.

  14. Ganni says:

    Tista ma taqbiliex maghna imma tista tahdem maghna. Mhux hekk nibqaw, Guz!

    One other thing: fejn hu Bundy? Xi hadd rah? Mela qieghed jisthi jihder wara li ghamel sena fuq is-Super One jghid kontra il-gvern Nazzjonalista?

  15. Martin says:

    Why didn’t he just quit his job as a civil servant when he changed career and started working in TV?

    [Daphne – I see you missed the gist entirely. Norman Vella is a civil servant. Civil servants can and are deployed to different departments/state entities depending on the need and where their skills can best be used. Sometimes this is used positively (putting somebody good at television to work for the state broadcaster rather than at a desk in some obscure department) and sometimes it is used negatively (vindictive and punitive transfers). Mr Vella was shifted, within the service itself, from government department X to the state broadcaster, where employees are on the public payroll just as he is. Now he has been moved out again. It is the same job, but the person is moved around.]

    • Martin says:

      Now here we cannot agree. PBS should be as independent from the state as possible and shifting civil servants in and out of it is a mistake. PBS must have its own independent systems. If it doesn’t, whoever has been taking care of PBS for the past decades clearly messed up.

      [Daphne – I really, well and truly despair. Honestly. It’s late, I’m tired and I just don’t understand how people don’t get the simplest things. No offence, but please, please try to think. PBS stands for PUBLIC BROADCASTING SERVICES. Why do you think it is called that? Because it is the STATE BROADCASTER. How can the state broadcaster be independent from the state? The state is not the government. So yes, though PBS should not be the government’s mouthpiece, it remains the state broadcaster, and that is precisely why it has a ‘duty of care’ to all, and not just the government.]

      Now let’s say that yes the system is bad so we have to live with it and expect that it’s used in the best ways possible.

      If Norman wants to keep on presenting on TVM and the producer(s) of the show want him there, why doesn’t he quit the civil service and signs a contract as a freelance presenter working for the producer(s)?

      [Daphne – Because no responsible person in middle life, with a home to keep running and bills to pay, quits a permanent job with a salary every month for sporadic freelance work that is, worse still, sold to just a single client. And because common sense should tell you that if political instructions removed him, then political instructions would bar buying any show he produces.]

      • Martin says:

        That’s where you’re mistaken, Public Broadcaster only means State Broadcaster in the totalitarian states you love to hate.

        The primary mission of public broadcasting that of public service, speaking to and engaging as a citizen. (“Public Broadcasting – Why, How?”. UNESCO & World Radio and Television Council. Retrieved 17 August 2011.)

        So you see it should be independent. In most modern countries the Public Broadcaster is supported by the state but acts autonomously from the state or government. (Read up about how RAI, BBC, even Indian TV operator autonomously from the state/government).

        Unfortunately PBS has been used as a tool by the government in Malta since it’s inception and you have not grown up enough to accept that.

        As for the second part, you do know that now you’re sounding like the ‘oh so dreadful lower classes’ that want a job for life right?

        [Daphne – Martin, Malta is an island 17 miles by nine, with another little island tacked on, and a population of around 400,000. Doesn’t it ever strike you as odd that it even HAS a television station of its own? We do not have the luxury of comparisons to the BBC and RAI, still less India. You know very well what I meant by ‘state broadcaster’: not ‘mouthpiece of the state’ as in totalitarian regimes, but state-owned, which it in fact is. So perhaps you would like to make a more appropriate comparison to Greece, where the government, in representation of the state, has sacked most of the state broadcaster’s workforce to cut costs. The United States has its classic-case PBS, but nobody watches it. It’s a joke, a sort of noticeboard where voluntary groups and NGOs have their say. But then they have very strong privately owned TV networks, so nobody complains. The TV station of a tiny couple of islands with a minuscule population has to be all things to all men, because there is no scope for private stations – which is precisely why the party stations are bringing down the parties financially. The advertising market can’t take it.

        I do not think the ‘lower classes’ are dreadful and I never use that term, because I don’t think in terms of lower but different. You will never see or hear me use anything other than working-class. Everybody who has a family needs an income – not a JOB – not for life but for that part of life which is most financially demanding. Unless you have something to fall back on, you have to move from one job to another, or you can’t pay your bills. I trust you are single, childless and freewheeling, and fail to understand this. Either that, or you have a wife with a full-time job and a great deal of patience.]

  16. Allo Allo says:

    Labour think they can be vindictive in removing broadcasters and broadcasting companies.

    The reality is that this is a two-way relationship. While MTV provides the broadcasters with employment, contracts and revenue, competent broadcasters provide MTV with revenue and profits.

    Audiences don’t watch Xarabank because its on MTV.

    Should the government terminate or rather not renew Where’s Everybody’s contract it would be an opportunity for Net TV to step in.

    I understand that it isn’t easy with the current financial statement but with an goodwill on both sides it can be made to work.

    The same applies to all other popular shows. In the end the government would only be shooting itself and TVM in the foot. We’ve seen this happen when Xarabank was boycotted under Alfred Sant’s leadership.

    • Dott Abjad says:

      Net TV? What about Net TV? Why write here from the standpoint as though all who read and post here are born and bred Nationalists ta’ gewwa, sons and daughters of Tesserati and Delegati?

      It would be silly of Net TV hasn’t even gotten to the point where it hasn’t snapped up Norman as we speak.

      But Net TV has its own demons to exorcise and has a long way to go to become relevant as TVM (not MTV please, seems like Isle of MTV fever is far more contagious than previously thought) has been for the past two decades.

      The truth is that no one really cares what Net TV does, so please stop writing as though it is our baby or we are shareholders in it.

      You would seem more credible if you wrote more objectively.

      • Allo Allo says:

        Apart from the TVM / MTV bit, I can’t make heads or tails of what your point is.

  17. Brinbu says:

    In my opinion, Norman Vella was a true journalist who questioned and challenged all.

    I must say that a hint of PN was evident, but fair and factual he always was.

    I can conclude, he does not sell his soul and hence his marching orders.

    Keep your spirits up, you can’t keep a good man down.

  18. TinaB says:


  19. Sparky says:

    Pathetic. Norman is prominent on national TV so this transfer is hard to stomach.

    He is, nonetheless, one of many who recently have been served with politically motivated transfers.

  20. Hitting the Ground Running says:

    The PM had said that he “knows what he is doing” about Lou’s appointment.

    What is the possibility that Castille is now working on dismantling Lou’s business by pulling Where’s Everybody productions off the air, one programme after the other, while having already put Lou in a situation where, in one extreme if he seeks to hold on to his new position, he cannot fight back, and on the other extreme if he resigns he cannot even seek refuge in the PN’s media?

    Could be a possibility. Besides, they could have dented Bondi’s credibility here.

    As a member of the board for national festivities, Lou Bondi cannot even organise any of those festivities with his business resources, because of conflict of interest (ok, subject to declaration, but it would not be nice if the board is seen to be awarding business to WE).

  21. edgar says:

    There was a letter in Il Mument last Sunday by Valerie Borg, the PL councillor from Valletta, saying how disgusted she is that a colleague of hers, a Nursing Officer, was transferred because she was a PN voter. She described it as vindictive and hdura.

    • maryanne says:

      Yes, and she emphasised that she is absolutely sure that the Prime Minister doesn’t know about it.

      In Norman Vella’s case, the email was sent by the OPM.

      • EVC says:

        Hadd m’ghandu johodha bi kbira li Muscat ma kienx jaf lanqas fuq din.

        Impjega tant nies biex jaqduh u jahdmu mieghu, forsi kulhadd kellu xi xoghol partikulari x’jaghmel u wiehed minnhom gie imqabbad biex jiehu hsieb it TV.

        Dan, peres li jaf hafna kif jaghmel xogholu, baghat l-email minghajr ma qaghad jiskomoda lil Prim fuq din il-bicca.

        Ghax dawn nies kollha kapaci u jistghu jigu avdati.

      • Jar Jar says:

        Here we go again. Labour supporters were violent but Mintoff didn’t sanction such violence himself etc etc. Yeah right….

  22. Harry Purdie says:

    Not even a thank you for his service, before he was strung, hung and quartered? How unbecoming.

  23. Catsrbest says:

    Utterly disgusting.

    By the way what do you think about the letter written in ‘Il-Mument’ by the Labour diehard Valerie Borg about yet another vindictive transfer to an employee of Nationalist belief by PL orchestrated by socialist employees?

  24. Phyllis says:

    Lou should resign in solidarity with his friend and colleague.

    “A man who values his privileges above his principles soon loses both”.

  25. Bubu says:

    Bet my bottom dollar dear leader was obliged to do this lest he drown in a deluge of sms’s sent by the usual COCKamamie individual.

  26. Grace says:

    Are we enjoying the change?

  27. Jessy James says:

    What if this was done to please someone else, in exchange for not causing trouble with a particularly troublesome ministry?

    Norman seems to have been tolerated these past 3 months and would seem to have been behaving in a fitting-in way.

    Some presenters from the other side must be allowed to keep their position to show there is balance.

    And pre election, although he was obviously blue, his shows were balanced. This is out of the blue- sajjetta fil-bnazzi! Surprisingly coincidental also is the praise for Lou’s appointment.

    Anyway who cares- it’s negligible. Not even an Opposition exists anymore.

  28. Gahan says:

    That was PBS’s present for Norman’s son’s birthday.

    They really know when to hit and cause most damage.


  29. anon says:

    Joseph Muscat ghamila ta’ Pilatu. Salva lil Lou u lin-nies tefghalhom lil Norman.

  30. Maradona says:

    They actually hate most those who are ex Labour.

    Norman comes from an extremely staunch Labour family.

  31. Tarzan says:

    Earlier this week, while watching TVHEMM, I thought I heard Norman remark that this would be the last week of TVHEMM before the programme took a break for the summer period.

    Although I occasionally found Norman annoying, I really liked watching TVHEMM, as well as other programmes he was involved in. It is a pity that he was removed from broadcasting.

  32. etil says:

    Who is next on the list – Pierre Portelli?

  33. Jozef says:

    Good. Let them betray their insecurities.

    I’m sure Norman Vella can put his scriptwriting skills elsewhere.

    As for this government, good to know they can’t bear to subscribe to public scrutiny anymore.

    Vella was the norm, snubbed by the ‘intelligentsia’, vilified for his scepticism towards Labour.

    Now, if his opinion’s considered dangerous, doesn’t that mean they’re sub-par? That they won’t be challenged to catch up with the country?

    What matters to Labour is to control that which makes it onto TV. It had become an entertaining half hour after 7.00pm on PBS, watching them falter at the simplest of questions, common layman’s sense really.

    So Muscat’s concerned at losing popularity, and this is his method. Jahasra, what’s he aiming at, consent by piety?

  34. Meritocracy Rules says:

    Lou have a modicum of dignity and show some support to your former colleague by resigning. You should do it even out of a sense of self-preservation. Stay on and Muscat will dump you even more unceremoniously than he did Norman, whenever suits him best.

  35. jojo says:

    Berlusconi bought Pippo Baudo but he let him stew on Canale 5 for a number of years without giving him a valid show to run.. He just got rid of the competition and neutered Baudo.

  36. Warren says:

    Reading some of the comments above I gather that some of you are either purposely stupid or just taking the mickey.

    Anyone who commended such a communist act is not worthy to call himself a modern-liberal let alone a European citizen. Your place is in a Delorian ready to be shipped back in time to the golden communist days of the 70s and 80s.

  37. Lomax says:

    I really think Lou should not have accepted the appointment and now he should resign.

    Needless to say, there might be facts which we don’t know. However, I really think Lou should not have accepted the post.

  38. Brincat Farah says:

    Miss him – he was really sexy.

  39. Dennis says:

    And the beat goes on .

Leave a Comment