The Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) has stated that transmission of the signal of local TV station Raajje TV is against the Maldives Broadcasting Act (No. 16/2010) and that those who are involved in such transmissions should stop it on immediate effect.
Raajje TV faced heavy criticism from opposition parties during Nasheed’s administration, who are currently involved with the new president Dr Waheed’s National Unity government. The opposition alleged that Raajje TV was biased and was working in favour of former president Nasheed and his Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). The station has actively covered MDP protests and rallies, and in several cases aired incorrect reports of fatalities which police later cited as a factor in the subsequent and widespread destruction of police property.
However the TV station’s audience seems to have rapidly risen following the fall of Nasheed’s government and takeover of the state broadcaster, MNBC, rebranded as TVM. Many people are apparently now viewing the channel through satellite.
A person from Addu City, Hithadhoo under the condition of anonymity, said “Here a lot of people are depending on Raajje TV for information. Many believe that TVM (the state broadcasting TV station) is biased and not showing what is really going on in Male’. There is only one house where Raajje TV can be seen in Hithadhoo and everyone gathers there to see the news.”
During the protests held by the ’23 December’ coalition against then president Mohamed Nasheed, some reporters from the TV station were attacked and some of them sustained injuries.
According to the media release issued from the commission, Raajje TV – which is run under a company Media Ring Pvt Ltd -was given the license to broadcast the channel via cable TV only to the capital Male’ city region and any broadcast out of the authorised boundary is illegal under the broadcasting act article 22 clause (a).
The article 22 clause (a) states “Any party who gives broadcasting service in the Maldives should be given under a license issued from the Maldives Broadcasting Commission, adhering to the conditions and stipulations stated under the license.”
The commission further stated that they have been receiving complaints about the transmission of the channel outside its licensed region.
“When the commission inquired Raajje TV regarding the complaints, the TV station has confirmed the commission that it has not been broadcasting the channel outside its licensed boundaries.” The media release read.
When contacted with Raajje TV Chief Executive officer Mohamed Rafeeq, he confirmed that Raajje TV was not involved in such transmissions. “Raajje TV is not broadcasting its signal out of its licensed boundary but since we broadcast the signal through satellite, it is possible that reception of the channel could be possible through satellite TV.”
He further went on to say “We can’t do much about that kind of signal reception but we do believe that everyone has the right to information under the constitution. The media release could be because of political pressures especially given the current vibrant situation in Male.”