Private broadcaster Raajje Television (RaajjeTV) has released a statement on Wednesday following the Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC)’s fourth fine slapped on the station since the introduction of the Anti-Defamation and Freedom of Expression Law.
RaajjeTV was fined by an exorbitant MVR two million or (USD 130,000) on Wednesday for broadcasting a live interview which the government-controlled MBC alleged to contain content that defames incumbent President Abdulla Yameen and poses threats to national security.
The ‘defaming content’ is a statement by a politician at an opposition demonstration on the 16th of March, days before government-imposed State of Emergency was lifted.
The station was first fined in March 2017 by MVR 200,000 (USD 12,970) regarding news bulletins broadcast in November 2016 that allegedly violated clauses 14 (b) and (e) as well as clause 10 (a) and (i) of the Anti-Defamation Bill.
The second fine of MVR one million (USD 64,903.50) came about a month after the first fine was imposed and mere hours after the first fine was paid up whereas the third, came in October 2017 in a total of MVR 500,000 (USD 32,451.75).
RaajjeTV in its statement wrote that like the previous fines, the latest one, the largest sum that can be imposed, is also a targeted attack with no legal basis. Moreover, it noted that institutions tasked with ensuring the country’s security and stability have not raised any issues with the content in question.
RaajjeTV also revealed that a credible source in the commission told RaajjeTV that the fine was imposed despite technical staff advising against it.
The stations further went on to note that the commission’s report on its decision, is filled with fabrications, claiming that this is a “calculated and well-coordinated attack to obstruct its efforts to make President Yameen’s government accountable" ahead of the September polls.
With the latest fine, the total penalizations against the station has reached MVR 3.7 million.
“While there is evidence to prove that the fines are unlawful, there is no avenue to seek or pursue justice. The appeals filed by the RaajjeTV has been held up at the courts and is left with no choice but to concede to this abuse” the statement further notes.
Noting that it believes that MBC is run by loyalists of the current administration who are under strict orders to “muzzle press freedom and force independent broadcasters to limit criticism of the current regime”, RaajjeTV said that the commission is putting in its best efforts to restrict press freedom and the freedom of speech by “encouraging tyranny and injustice within state mechanisms”.
RaajjeTV is to re-open its fundraising on Friday evening, saying that it refuses to give up hope 'to create a better nation in which human rights, freedom of expression and free media are respected like they deserve'.