DhiFM Plus asked to publicly apologise for upside down pictures

The Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) has asked private media outlet DhiFM Plus to issue a public apology for broadcasting an upside down picture of former Elections Commissioner President Fuwad Thowfeek.

In a statement (Dhivehi) on MBC’s website, the commission has noted that the act was in violation of the broadcasting code of practice and that it had violated the honour of Thowfeek.

MBC said that the commission had previously advised the TV station that content containing upside down pictures of persons were in violation to the broadcasting code of practice but that the TV station had failed to correct it.

The TV station was asked to issue a statement of apology before 26 March and to display the statement from 8pm to 10pm.

On February 12, 2014, the MBC 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 at the time, the commission asked the TV channel and the radio station – a pioneer of ‘visual radio’ in the Maldives – not to broadcast such content until the commission had concluded its investigation into the case.

MBC had given similar advice to the two stations in November last year after they had shown upside down photos of three members of the EC – Thowfeek, Ahmed Fayaz, and Ali Mohamed Manik – with a caption alleging that they had committed electoral fraud in the annulled September 7 presidential election.

After questioning the Supreme Court’s actions following an investigation into the alleged fraud, both Fayaz and Thowfeek were dismissed from their positions by the court earlier this month.

Following the incident, MBC sent a circular to all broadcasters noting that complaints regarding the disrespectful use of photos had led to it taking action against media outlets for violating the broadcasting code.

CEO of DhiFM Masood Hilmy told newspaper Haveeru at the time 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.

The broadcasting commission is a 7-member body entrusted with implementation of broadcasting policy, regulation of broadcasting industry, and the promotion of responsible broadcasting. It was formed in 2010 under the Broadcasting Act.