The Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) has today asked private TV station DhiTV and its sister company, the radio station DhiFM Plus, to stop using upside down images of Elections Commission (EC) President Fuwad Thowfeek.
In a statement issued on the MBC website, the commission asked the TV channel and the radio station – a pioneer of ‘visual radio’ in the Maldives – not to broadcast that content until the commission had concluded its investigation into the case.
MBC said that a letter had been sent today by commission President Mohamed Shaheeb advising the two stations not to broadcast anything in a way that it might encourage unrest, and to keep in mind that the parliament elections are ahead.
The Supreme Court has today launched a surprise trial against Thowfeek and his EC colleagues, using ‘sumoto’ proceedings to both initiate and preside over contempt of court hearings.
The president of MBC also advised the two stations to be aware of the code of practice established under the Broadcasting Act’s article 37.
MBC gave similar advise to the two stations in November after they again showed photos of three members of the Elections Commission – Thowfeek, Ahmed Fayaz, and Ali Mohamed Manik – upside down with a caption alleging that they had committed electoral fraud in the annulled September 7 presidential election.
Following the incident, MBC sent a circular to all broadcasters noting that complaints regarding the disrespectful use of photos had let to it taking action against media outlets for violating the broadcasting code.
CEO of DhiFM Masood Hilmy told newspaper Haveeru that the photo of the EC president was displayed after the Supreme Court had sent summons to the EC, but it had been removed upon MBC’s request.
Last month, MBC ordered both the Maldivian Democratic Party-aligned Raajje TV and the Jumhooree Party-aligned VTV to issue apologies for the content broadcast during the prolonged presidential election period.
While Raajje TV was found to have aired content defamatory to the Supreme Court, VTV was asked to issue an apology for material defaming the MDP’s presidential candidate Mohamed Nasheed, MP Rozaina Adam, and EC President Thowfeek.