This is the second year running that state broadcaster CyBC has shut down its radio news shows for three weeks, replacing them with music. In previous years the news shows went off air for just the one week that included the August 15 public holiday, but it seems the three-week switch-off has now become a fixture and radio news reporters, presenters and producers are expected by management to go on 15-day holiday.

All that listeners are now offered from Trito, in place of its four-hour morning current affairs show is music, with brief news bulletins on the hour. The main news show at 1pm has also been reduced to a few minutes. CyBC never gave the reasoning behind this inexplicably arbitrary decision, based on the absurd assumption that for three weeks in August radio audiences have no interest in what is happening and just want to listen to music played by mock-cheerful presenters.

The decision is a disgrace for public broadcasting as it shows total disregard for the station’s listeners. Is there any other public broadcaster in the world that suspends its news shows for three weeks? Does BBC radio suspend its current affairs shows for three weeks in August and send all its staff on holiday? Do the daily newspapers stop publishing in August? No news organisation worth its salt would cut current affairs shows for as long as our state broadcaster, showing utter contempt for its listeners.

News bosses at the CyBC obviously do not care about losing listeners, because the taxpayer will carry on paying more than €30 million a year for its operation, its employees will carry on getting their fat paycheques, their annual raises plus CoLA and the pension fund will carry on being subsidised by the state. They have no incentive to offer a good service and keep the customer happy and do not care if they lose all their listeners, while they shut shop – they will not lose their jobs.

This is not the only way the CyBC radio bosses show their disregard for the people who pay their wages. Some months ago, they decided to stop the 6pm current affairs show and replace it with a ‘chat show’ of the type that abounds on private radio stations. What the people in charge of CyBC do not seem to understand is that they receive huge amounts of money from the taxpayer to provide something different – high-brow – than what is offered by private stations. When it fails to do this, it cannot justify taking the taxpayer’s money.

Why should we pay for chat and music shows when there are countless private radio stations offering these at no cost to the taxpayer? And why should we pay for a public broadcaster that shows utter contempt for its radio listeners, deciding that, for three weeks they are not entitled to any current affairs programmes?