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Parliament to debate controversial Media Bill tomorrow

The draft Bill seeks to double libel penalties, protect journalists from prohibitory injunctions and oblige news websites to register with the government, among other provisions. Photo:Shutterstock

The draft Bill seeks to double libel penalties, protect journalists from prohibitory injunctions and oblige news websites to register with the government, among other provisions. Photo:Shutterstock

Members of Parliament will tomorrow start discussing the Media and Defamation Bill in second reading.

Justice Minister Owen Bonnici presented the first reading of the controversial Bill last October.

Among other things, it seeks to update defamation laws, abolish criminal libel in media laws, introduce the new civil tort of slander, and regulate web-based news and current affairs services.

The Bill also protects journalists from being subjected to prohibitory injunctions while doubling the maximum amount of damages awardable for libel.

It also encourages increased use of alternative means of dispute resolution such as the right of reply, voluntary clarifications, mediation and other practical means of avoiding libel litigation.

A provision within the draft Bill that would require news websites to register with the government has been criticised by the Nationalist Party and IT experts. 

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