K. Male' | Rushdha Rasheed | 08-October-2017 | Sunday 17:32 | rushdhar | Report | 214
This morning RaajjeTV was slammed with the third fine levied by Maldives Broadcasting Commission. The station was fined by MVR 500,000 or US$ 32,425.42.
In a letter sent to RaajjeTV Chief Operating Officer Hussain Fiyaz Moosa, the Commission said RaajjeTV was penalized for broadcasting a statement made by Thimarafushi Constituency MP Mohamed Musthafa on July 28th during a live program.
The letter said that MP Musthafa had on the program, spoken in a manner that encouraged to overthrow the current Government, encourage to carry out an illegal act, encourage a loss to the legal government and encouraged action that negatively impacted on national security and the safety and security of the elected President of the Maldives. The fine, the letter said, was levied after investigating the case.
The hefty fine was slammed under the controversial Defamation Bill.
The controversial bill passed in 2016 had come under criticism both locally and internationally. The bill has been used to penalized RaajjeTV in the three instances. The station was first fined by the Commission by MVR 200,000 and MVR 1 million the second time.
The argument of defamation and protection from defamation is a completely different issue. A person’s name, reputation and dignity should and must be protected. Any defamation bill put forward by any Government should hold this and setting standards for media as key.
However, this is not the situation in the Maldives.
The Defamation Bill and media statutory bodies are used as tools of crackdown. This is reflected when journalists have to think multiple times before they actually attempt to do something they love doing. This is reflected when Maldives gets pegged down on media freedom scales. This is reflected when individuals such as Parliament Speaker Abdullah Maseeh, who by the way has little to no experience working in media, schools press and media on their mandate.
As for the speech made by MP Musthafa; his statement was a mere reflection of what many, if not thousands across the nation felt towards the President and the current administration.
The present administration must understand that not all will view their work in a positive light. By constantly penalizing media for broadcasting what people say, the Commission is perpetrating a climate of negativity and fear. How insecure must one be to constantly feel the need to act against those who say anything negative about them?
It was not too long ago we saw current Commission President Mohamed Shaheeb on the road with the present head of Public Service Media (PSM) Ibrahim Khaleel, marching for the rights of media. That image is still fresh in the minds of many in journalism. When individuals of that caliber, those who had spent better part of their adult lives in broadcasting field, advocate for such freedoms, one expects them to take progressive action when they are in the position to do so.
The Defamation bill and resultant fees levied on RaajjeTV came under the tenure of Shaheeb as head of the Commission. Most of the Commission members are former journalists.
Instead of setting examples to the youth starting out in the field, these veteran journalists are painting a sinister picture, setting a nasty precedent.
Nevertheless, RaajjeTV and our persistence on holding the Government, any Government, will persist. We are in no mood to bend a knee to intimidation and fear tactics.
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