Eileen Montesin moves from Super One to TVM

Eileen Montesin moves from Super One to TVM

Eileen Montesin

Eileen Montesin

Public Broadcasting Services has just signed a contract with Eileen Montesin for 39 episodes of Undercover, the popular light-hearted teleserial on Super One television.

The series had been running on Super One for about four years.

Ms Montesin said she had originally intended to sign a new contract with Super One for a quiz show Il-weekend jibda hawn and 26 episodes of Undercover, but following a row that had been building up with Super One since last January, she decided to move to PBS with Undercover and drop the quiz show.

Ms Montesin said she had no problems with the Malta Labour Party and was still a Labour supporter but she would not allow anyone at Super One to treat her badly.

Ms Montesin said her problems at Super One started brewing following the boycott of L-Istrina.

"Alfred Mifsud, who was then chairman, had issued a directive that those working for Super One should not participate in L-Istrina," she said.

L-Istrina is a programme aired by PBS at the end of each year to collect funds for charitable institutions. It is put up by the same team that produces Xarabank. Close to Lm500,000 were collected last year.

"I had objected to that directive as I always looked forward to taking part. It is a programme for a good cause and it is fun meeting people from other stations. I always looked forward to it. But in the end I followed the directive and did not go on L-Istrina.

"Some people from Super One did, however, go on the programme. Shortly afterwards, Xalamita, a programme Alfred Zammit and I produced, was abruptly stopped in March, when it was set to continue until June.

"We received a letter from the board thanking us for what we had done but telling us that they wanted a programme that would draw a bigger audience.

"To add insult to injury, some of those presenting the new programme had participated in L-Istrina.

"I was loyal to Super One, even though I was not employed there. I was a contributor and given a mere Lm1.35 an hour, from which national insurance and income tax were deducted, for a radio programme I did three times a week.

"I had wanted to participate in Xarabank when the programme dealt with teleserials since I had viewed that episode as a good way to promote the teleserials I was working on," she said.

"I stayed away but again others from Super One went against the grain and participated, yet it was I who was still treated badly.

"In the end, I wrote to Dr Sant protesting about what was going on at Super One in my regard and in protest I did not vote at the March local elections.

"I started hearing reports that an influential person within Super One was saying that they would pay me back. This person was saying that everyone would hate me and that would find a way to get rid of me."

Ms Montesin said she used to bring in countless adverts for Super One.

Sometimes adverts were aired even though they had not been pre-booked as they came in at the last minute - although there was never a problem with that as they were always paid for. She often had adverts booked without a set date.

"But one day a person from the advertising section barged into the studio during my radio programme while a promotional spot was being aired live and started complaining that the advert had not been booked.

"I could not take this attitude any longer. I phoned the person in charge and told him to find a replacement as I intended to leave during the news break and did so.

"After that, the board decided that since I had left in the middle of a programme, I was to be suspended from radio.

"They left me with no option but to go to PBS and I signed the contract on Tuesday evening," she said.

The first episode of Undercover goes on air in October.

Contacted for his reaction, chief exceutive operations of Super One, Albert Marshall, said "in the context of pluralism it is routine for broadcasters to change stations.

"There will be other talent that will be featuring in October. It is the norm for people to move around when there is competition in the media.

"Ms Montesin was a contributor. Her suspension from radio had nothing to do with television. It was her choice to move on," he said.

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