The decision by PBS (acting on the Broadcasting Authority’s guidelines) to stop Claudette Pace from continuing to present her programme Sellili because she is running for elections, has created quite a stir.
But after reading all I could about it, there is something I wish to point out. Claudette has not lost her livelihood – PBS did not axe her programme from the new TV schedule starting in October; they have simply told her she cannot present it. In other words, she can still continue to be the producer* as she is now; she will simply not be the “face” of the programme. Now this is a crucial point, because there is a big difference between losing one’s income completely which would be devastating, and having to forego being in front of the camera.
I can understand the rationale of the BA’s guidelines on this matter. Even if Claudette doesn’t touch political issues with a barge pole during her magazine programme, the very fact that her face will be on our screens every afternoon gives her an untold advantage as a political candidate. It is disingenuous to pretend otherwise. After all, politicians vie ruthlessly with one other to appear on the small screen, and as we all know very well, there is more infighting and backstabbing between candidates from the same party campaigning on the same district than there is between candidates of different parties.
TV exposure and visibility does matter – and how. To give a more trivial example, just look at how it affects singers who compete in the Song for Europe: those who appear on a regular TV show as guest singers invariably do much better in the televoting than those who are relatively unfamiliar faces.
Now Claudette might argue that without her experience and personality at the helm (and with a different presenter) Sellili might not attract the same kind of advertising it has up to now, so she will suffer commercially. This is a valid point, of course. But it seems to me that she really should have done her homework on this beforehand.
After all, that is the kind of calculated risk one takes when one decides to step into the political arena.
* Since writing this I have been reliably informed that Claudette was only contracted to be the presenter and is not the programme producer. However as the original Sellili concept belongs to her, I have asked Claudette several questions about whether it would be possible for her to change her role on the programme, in order to retain some kind of income. When I receive her replies I will post them accordingly.