Circular 15/08

Circular to All Broadcasting Stations

Consultation Document Proposing Guidelines on Quality Programming

In March 2006 Ernst & Young Limited submitted a report to the Media Desk within the EU Affairs Directorate of the Ministry for Tourism and Culture which consisted in the analysis of focus group discussions which dealt with quality programming. The report lists a number of themes which participants mentioned as being essential for good quality programming.

Participants’ comments are summarised under each theme.

Based on this report, the Authority has drafted Guidelines for good quality programming and welcomes any feedback on these proposed Guidelines.

Feedback should be addressed as follows:

The Chief Executive
Broadcasting Authority
7, Mile End Road
Ħamrun, ĦMR 1719
e-mail: ambuhagiar@ba-malta.org
Tel: 21 221281
Fax: 21 240855

Feedback should be submitted not later than Friday, 30th May, 2008

Dr Kevin Aquilina 21st April, 2008
Chief Executive Ref: 14/08
Broadcasting Authority


Consultation Document Proposing Guidelines on Quality Programming

1. A quality programme has interesting topics.

A good quality programme has an interesting topic. Whether the programme is a discussion programme or whether it is drama, a religious programme or any other genre, an interesting topic is what keeps audience glued to the television. Good topics are topics which are relevant to a person’s life. An interesting programme caters for all strata of society.

2. A quality programme is informative and educational.

Good quality is normally equated with programmes that have interesting content, which are not considered to be a waste of time. It also assists in the formation of one’s character. In all types of genres, but especially in discussion programmes, good quality is reflected in programmes that teach in both formal and informal ways.

3. A good programme is fair and balanced.

In all genres, but especially in political programmes, a good quality programme presents in a fair manner different points of view.

4. A quality programme can be humorous and witty.

Humour can be one of the characteristics of a good quality programme. Good satire is an example of good quality programming.

5. A quality programme is realistic.

When discussing drama, good quality is normally equated with realism. A good drama is one that deals with topics and issues that are faced by people in everyday life.

6. A quality programme has sound values.

Conversation in certain programmes can be mediocre and silly. Hence this has to be avoided. Poor values must not be portrayed.

7. A quality programme has a good script.

In all programmes, but especially in drama, a good scriptwriter and a good script is essential to a good quality programme.

8. A quality programme has a good presenter.

A programme is of quality when the presenter has good communication skills, is not afraid to tackle difficult topics and has the courage to ask inquisitive and probing questions. A good quality programme does not cut corners but delves into a topic and strives to give a true picture of reality. A good presenter gives people a chance to explain their point of view.

9. A quality programme has good camera work, light and sound.

Good lighting, sound and camera work are as important as good topics in a programme. Media aesthetics is what differentiates a good quality programme from a mediocre one. The set makes a difference. An empty room has to be avoided as this gives the impression of a mediocre product.

10. A good quality programme should not have any advertisements and should not be “stretched out”.

Some programmes tend to be over-lengthy. The reason for the excessive length is the advertising, both during the programme as well as the formal advertising between the different parts of the programme. Undoubtedly, advertising is important for the financial backing of the programme but there is a limit as to how much airtime can be allocated to advertising and the extent to which it can be allowed to dictate the development of the programme.

11. A good quality programme respects people.

Programmes must not be allowed to use people who have personal or social problems and make a show out of their misery especially where people’s privacy is invaded.

12. A good quality programme is original.

Copying of ideas from foreign stations tends to detract from a programme’s originality. It is acceptable to take ideas from other stations as long as they are adopted well to the local culture.

13. A good quality programme has an informed panel.

A programme is made more interesting when there is the participation of persons who, although not informed in an academic sense, still have an opinion to give. A quality programme should have a panel of experts and that what they have to say should be the core of the programme. The participation of others should be minimal.