Tanja Cilia

Freelance Writer

Time, and again…

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Sunday, August 10, 2008 by

Tanja Cilia

They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? is one of the few films that includes flash forwards. In the film, Gloria Beatty (Jane Fonda) asks Robert Syverton (Michael Sarrazin) to kill her after she realises she is not going to win one of those Depression-era marathon dance contests.

The title phrase comes from Syverton’s reply to the police officers, when asked what his motive was.

The childhood memory of what happened to a horse that broke a leg during a race still haunted him.

From the perspective of Syverton, as he languishes in his cell, we discover what led up to his imprisonment.

The important thing is that the dénouement is relatively tame. The film ends, but the dance marathon ostensibly continues – so we never discover who eventually won.

I get the same feeling every time any local media viewership and listenership statistics are published.

Each television and radio station crunches numbers until the data become a meaningless collection of digits, transmogrified according to the capabilities of those playing about with the numbers.

With blatant disregard for spelling, Hot Chocolate had cut a record entitled Every 1’s A Winner. And this is so true; just as everyone’s a loser if they resort to this type of fiddling.

Look at it this way: if the five members of this household consider listening to Radju Malta, the Station of the Nation, as a sine qua non, it means that 100 per cent of us do.

But it does not follow that the rest of the population does likewise.

This example is better typified by the fact that diehard political party supporters would never admit to listening to the ‘other side’ (even for ‘research purposes’) in telephone interviews, albeit they may do so in private, or when they call ‘their own’ station to voice their opinions.

Not too many people appear to have been number-crunching lately, after the latest viewership and listenership results of the Broadcasting Authority continuous audience assessment report survey are in.

Basically, we have confirmed what we would have suspected anyway – TVM is the most-watched television channel, and One Radio has the highest listenership. So what’s new?

It is interesting to note that people admit to listening to radio for more than twice longer than they watch television.

Is it because life is too fast to concentrate on one thing at a time, and television tends to demand one’s undivided attention?

Artists usually cite the ‘triple threat’ of performing arts – acting, singing and dancing. Since the former is a useful standby for any politician, and politics is a song and dance any way you look at it, I am not surprised at the politics-associated content of my inboxes.

Just before the elections in which Jason Micallef was re-elected general secretary of the Labour Party, I received the usual unsigned missive. This time, however, there was only a handful of words – the pictures were supposed to speak the other thousands.

I was unimpressed, because participating in a television programme does not mean that one is a lackey, just as looking at a camera when someone else is supposed to be the focus of the shot, is no indication of superiority.

I was further perturbed at the picture in the sister paper to this, with the caption: “Delegates casting their votes in Monday’s elections”, since it showed a child near a ballot box. I was equally annoyed with the comments about these elections “not being a beauty contest”.

All those concerned would do well to remember one of Margaret Thatcher’s handbagging statements: “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”

But what disturbs me most is the coverage that Net and One gave to these elections and their run-up, rather as if the fate of the galaxy depended upon them.


Joseph Chetcuti has moved lock, stock and barrel to One. Apart from his extremely popular makeover programme Arani Issa, he will also be presenting the well-researched socio-cultural programme Din Malta Tagħna. Both will begin come October.

Sifting through my mailboxes, I find that this coming season, audiences will be spoilt for choice when it comes to drama.

Net’s Gideb u Mħabba is the adaptation of Jesmond Grech’s eponymous book. This station will also screen Joseph Cachia’s Boxxla Xjaten.

Bryan Muscat’s work Amen is based on diabolical possessions as presented in a book written by exorcists; L-Erba’ Evanġelisti, about which I have no details, will also air on One.

Another One series that ought to appeal to the younger generation is Tracesland, by up-and-coming company Nice Dice. This delves into the underground of the narcotics trade but, ironically, some of the people involved are ‘good’ by anyone’s standards.

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Tanja Cilia

Freelance Writer

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