The Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) and the Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) have raised concerns over an alleged “threat” to the media from Minister of Transport and Communication Adhil Saleem, after he claimed that the broadcasting licence of media stations “misleading the public” would be revoked.
Adhil reportedly made the remarks during a meeting on Thursday with members of MBC, the broadcast media’s regulatory body.
Following the meeting, MBC held a press conference in which the commission President Badr Naseer contended that the commission legally reserves the right to suspend or renew a licence while according to section 44 of broadcasting commission courts hold the right to revoke a licence given to a media station.
Therefore, he argued, Minister Adhil’s threat “does not have any legal weight”.
He also said that the commission is deeply concerned by the “continous threats faced by the media despite the right to freedom of expression guaranteed under section 27, 28 of the constitution.”
Meanwhile, in a statement released by the MJA, the association condemned Adhil Saleem for “threatening to revoke the licence”.
The government is influencing the role of free media, and continuously attempting to defame some media organisation, the statement reads.
MJA also reiterated that it was the responsibility of the MBC and media council to monitor and take action against organisations breaching editorial policy and laws, not the government.
However, speaking to Minivan News today, Minister Adhil refuted the allegations.
“I did not threaten the media. It was just advice,” Adhil explained.
Adhil said that he met with the MBC members to notify them some of the TV stations covering the protest last night aired recorded content describing it as live events.
“I was watching the TV last night. What they showed was a mix. They showed recordings of yesterday and earlier protests with the live caption on-screen,” he alleged.
The stations must remove the live caption from screen if the telecasted events are not live, Adil argued, “otherwise it is misleading the public”
“I told [MBC] that as the governing body I expected the seven members – who are highly paid by the state – to monitor the situation, even if they don’t have the necessary means,” Adil said.
“If for whatever reason the regulatory body fails to monitor the situation, I said I will withhold the licence,” Adil said.
Speaking to Minivan News, senior officials from VTV and DhiTV insisted that the channels did not broadcast any “manipulated content” to deceive the public.
They also argued that using previous footage of interviews and scenes during live coverage was not something new, and was widely practiced in the international media.