Rait? Ma Raitx! Why Football Was Blocked On Italian TV Stations In Malta


Local football fans were less than impressed when they recently tried to tune in to watch a match from the Euro 2020 tournament on RAI, only to find a message quite clearly stating that the only way to watch the game in Malta is to tune in to PBS.

But this wasn’t always the case

The first game to be blocked was the round of sixteen knockout game between Italy and Austria. However, there were the three Italy group games and some others that had been shown simultaneously on both TVM and RAI prior to Saturday’s game, and broadcasters have very little say in the matter.

Spokespersons for both GO and Melita could have read off the same sheet. It’s “simply a matter of content rights and broadcasting regulations, said the GO representative. “Only PBS has the exclusive rights to broadcast the UEFA games in Malta and hence, upon instructions by PBS, GO had to block such content on RAI”.

Similarly, Melita acknowledged the frustration attributed to the announcement and action taken, but with PBS securing exclusive rights from UEFA, there’s simply no way of getting around that agreement. 

What’s all the fuss though?

The central issues are two-fold. The first is that if customers are paying for a full package, aren’t they entitled to what they pay for? Arnold Cassola took to Facebook to not just voice displeasure at the situation, but question whether Malta in the meantime had become fascist.

The other aspect that has fans up in arms is the quality, or lack thereof, in the local half-time and post-match analysis. Though access to RAI was made available in time for the post-match examination, it didn’t do much to quell people’s anger.

PBS statement

PBS chairman Mark Sammut confirmed that Euro 2020 matches can only be broadcast on TVM, given PBS’ acquisition of the exclusive rights for the Maltese territory. He revealed how PBS paid hundreds of thousands of euros to obtain the rights from UEFA, yet provides the service to Maltese viewers for free as part of the public service obligation as the pubic broadcaster. He also stated that restaurants, bars and clubs in Malta are legally obliged to broadcast matches on PBS stations. 

PBS themselves are equally obliged to ensure that no other stations are showing the games locally, or else they’d face fines amounting to millions of euros, since UEFA awarded rights to PBS for Maltese broadcasting, meaning others would have to be geoblocked.

Do you still agree with the decision to block Euro 2020 games on other channels?