RaajjeTV has on Sunday paid the MVR two million fine imposed by the Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC), accusing it of broadcasting content that defames the president and threatens national security.
MBC, on August 8, fined RaajjeTV MVR two million over a live interview of a prominent lawmaker on March 16, days before the state of emergency was lifted.
While this is the fourth fine imposed on the station under the controversial Anti-Defamation and Freedom of Expression Act, RaajjeTV was told to pay the fine at Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA) this time; the station had to pay directly to the Commission the previous times.
While the anti-defamation law states that the fine has to be paid within 30 days, Sunday is the deadline to pay the MVR two million fine.
Speaking outside the MIRA offices on Sunday morning, RaajjeTV’s chief operating officer Hussain Fiyaz Moosa expressed gratitude towards the Maldivian people for standing in solidarity with the station, and noted the hard work of the station’s employees in garnering the hefty amount.
“This has been a huge burden for us. MBC members might not understand the heftiness of the amount. We had to work extra hard to garner this amount. A number of people stepped forward to help us,” he said, adding that this was an attempt to hinder the station’s elections coverage.
While the station has paid the fine, RaajjeTV’s attorney Nishan Ibrahim said that the broadcasting commission is yet to make the allegations against the station clear, as per other cases, and added that the matter will now be taken to the courts. An appeal can only be made after paying the fine within 30 days.
While RaajjeTV describes the fine as a 'calculated and well-coordinated attack to obstruct its efforts to make President Yameen’s government accountable' ahead of the September polls, its officials spoke on the various hardships faced due to such continued attacks on the station.
As such, the station’s programme head Amir Saleem noted that despite President Abdulla Yameen admitting to USD one million being deposited to his personal account ‘action is being taken against those media organizations that cover this instead of conducting a transparent investigation’.
RaajjeTV has also accused members of broadcasting commission of ‘encouraging tyranny and injustice within state mechanisms'.
International bodies, such as the Committee to Protect Journalists and International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), has called on the Maldivian government to ‘respect press freedom and freedom of expression’ and to immediately withdraw the fine.