After months of dispute between the opposition and the government over control the state media, the Civil Court has finally ordered the Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation (MNBC) to transfer all assets and staff to the newly-established Maldives Broadcasting Corporation (MBC).
The tug-of-war began last year when the government transferred the assets and staff from Television Maldives (TVM) and Voice of Maldives (VOM) to the 100 percent government-owned corporate entity MNBC.
The opposition-majority parliament subsequently created MBC and order the government to transfer MNBC’s assets and staff. MNBC has been labelled pro-government by critics, while proponents argue that as most other mass media is owned by senior opposition political figures and favours the opposition, the government had no alternative voice.
Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair said that the government will appeal the Civil Court’s ruling in the High Court.
“The MPs and the judiciary should consider that the MNBC is operated by a board and all of its assets are properties of the MNBC,” he said.
Zuhair contended that there were resorts belonging to MPs that were operated under the same structure as MNBC, and questioned whether they wished to set a precedent for the court-ordered transfer of all their assets to another person’s company made for the express purpose.
MBC was formed by the parliament last year in April and its board was also appointed by the parliament. The board is answerable to parliament which makes the MBC board politically influenced, the government has claimed.
After the parliament passed the legislation to ”free” the state media, expecting the government to transfer the frequency and assets, the government bluntly declined to transfer the assets.
”MNBC was re-branded and changed its name after two board members of Television Maldives (TVM) proposed their names for the Maldives Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) board, but were dismissed from the parliament,” said opposition MP Ahmed Nihan at the time.
Nihan alleged that he was “certain” there was “a secret deal” made between MNBC and the government.