Tanja Cilia

Freelance Writer

Sound opinion

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Sunday, December 4, 2011 by

Tanja Cilia

Every so often, local TV stations give us a programme that is overshadowed by the happenings of the week in which it is broadcast, such that notes about them have to be filed away, perhaps never to be used.

The November 13 animal awareness episode of Qalbinnies must be an exception. Studio guests of Cynthia Zerafa were Janice Chetcuti from the Animal Welfare Directorate, and Moira Delia, the education officer of Dogs Trust.

Part of the discussion centred on people’s over-the-top attitude about animals – the people who buy strollers for their dogs ‘so they don’t walk’; those who buy clothes and footwear for their pets (mostly dogs) ‘so they look cute’; and those who feed stray animals (mostly cats) and fail to clean up after them.

I was pleased that animal therapy is alive and well in this centre; I hope this practice will be emulated by the administrations of other places, including hospitals and schools.

One important thing that came to light in this programme is that there is absolutely no law that precludes the feeding of animals; we break the law when we fail to clean up after them, and therefore, create potential sources of food for vermin as well as eyesores and bad smells.

This is on the same level as leaving four-footed household members cooped up in a small area when there are no humans in the house, or relegated to the roof, rain or shine.

When it comes to the morbid hobby (never mind the carbon footprint) of keeping ‘exotic’ animals as pets, we are informed that come January 1, their importation will be illegal. Alas, Siberian huskies, Alaskan malamutes and Japanese akitas do not fall under this categorisation, so in all probability, more of them will be thrown out onto the streets when their owners find they have bitten off more than they can chew.

I remember years ago, a young woman tried to impress me by saying how much she enjoyed seeing her snakes eat live chickens and white mice. She seemed very disappointed when I didn’t turn a hair.

I have also met people who de-claw cats ‘so they will not scratch the furniture’. This is illegal. The reasoning is that they are doing the animal a favour by giving him a home.

The video clip accompanying this programme showed the adventures of Poochie, a dalmatian cross that gets thrown out of his residence (as evidenced by his collar) and is taken to the office by Lisa the young clerk – and inevitably discovered by the cleaning woman… and the son of lady boss.

The chipping of animals will hopefully put paid to this malevolent behaviour of people, because not all dogs are lucky enough to be adopted within hours of being thrown away like a sack of rubbish.

Special guests on the programme were Ron Colombo and his partner guide dog, Balto. Colombo said it all – a domestic animal is not a pet (the term is anathema to him), but another member of the family.

• 2011 was the European Year of Volunteering as decreed by the EU. The Information and Recruitment Enterprise team that has been touring Europe is having its last lap in Malta; one hopes this is a ‘last but not least’ action.

What is particularly annoying is that the advertorial going out for it on Radju Malta tens of times a day informs us that it will take place “ġo” (in) City Gate. The use of the word ġo is particularly annoying at the best of times – and especially now that the entrance to Valletta is in such a shambles.

How long will the mangling of the language continue before the Broadcasting Authority begins to fine relapsers?

• The last time I mentioned Ti Lascio Una Canzone was in my November 6 column, when Mġarr girl Gaia Cauchi had taken part.

Last week, our world-class tenor Joseph Calleja was a guest star in the show. He sang Parla Più Piano with Giada Borelli and Michael Bonanno; Nessun Dorma with Cecilia Gasdia and Libiamo Ne’ Lieti Calici from Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata; all of which can be seen on Youtube.

Of course, this wonderful occasion was yet another chance for some local presenters and even newscasters to show their desperate lack of general knowledge.

There is not an opera called ‘La Traviata Brindisi’. Besides, once again foreign names and surnames were mangled beyond recognition by some presenters. And this is where I suggest, once again, a phonetic list of names and other proper nouns so that pronunciation would perhaps approach the proper one.

The vapid attitude of those who think that just sitting there looking pretty (and that’s just the men) is enough, beggars belief.

A number of presenters simply rephrase the information a guest gives. They have no idea of the topic being discussed; the last time they did homework was in their schooldays. Using a computer on air is not hip –it’s careless.

• TVM is now receiving statement of intent proposals from philanthropic societies and NGOs with a view to their presenting programmes on TVM. Interested parties should send an e-mail to fundraising@tvm.com.mt for further information.

• It is annoying to hear media personalities simper in false modesty. Passing self-deprecatory remarks will cut no ice.

Neither will playing to the gallery, especially when, in private, these same people have been known to express opinions totally the opposite of what they have said on air.

As an adjunct – I wonder whether all those who advertise victuals or toiletries actually use them. Jewellery and clothes would be a different kettle of fish; although if you happen to see a dress or a jacket exactly like the one worn on television by your favourite personality, it might well be the same one.


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Tanja Cilia

Freelance Writer

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