The Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) has today started investigating a case DhiFM Plus’s airing of an upside down photos of the commission’s Chair Mohamed Shaheeb.
Yesterday DhiFM Plus aired pictures of Shaheeb following the commission’s warning that measures would be taken against the private TV station for airing similar pictures of senior government officials and politicians.
The commission has repeatedly informed the station that such actions violated the MBC code of ethics.
Speaking during a press conference today, MBC’s Director General Mohamed Nasih said that the investigation was initiated by the commission itself, local media reported.
Naish was quoted as saying that Commission Chair Shaheeb would not take part in any meetings held regarding the issue as the case was related to him and so may represent a conflict of interest.
Shaheeb told the media that the commission had not decided what action it would take against DhiFM Plus, noting that the commission did not have the authority to withhold the broadcasting license of any TV station despite being the institution empowered to issue such licenses.
He said that the commission has to file a case with the court if it wished to withhold the license of a TV station.
In a statement given yesterday, MBC said that members unanimously decided to issue a warning to Broadcasting Maldives Pvt Ltd – the company that operates DhiTV – under article 44(a)(2) of the Broadcasting Commission Act after the TV station had aired Election Commission (EC) members’ photos upside down.
The upside down photo of MBC’s Shaheeb on DhiFM’s visual radio channel – also aired on DhiTV during its downtime – was accompanied by a news sticker that read, ‘Experts say that making such a harsh announcement while [we] have been apologising in compliance with the Broadcasting Commission’s instructions is a step backwards for democracy’.
On March 24, 2014, MBC asked private media outlet DhiFM Plus to issue a public apology for broadcasting the upside down picture of former Elections Commissioner President Fuwad Thowfeek.
In a statement issued at the time, the commission noted that the act was in violation of the broadcasting code of practice and that it had violated the honour of Thowfeek
On February 12, 2014, the MBC advised private TV station DhiTV and its sister company, the radio station DhiFM Plus, to stop using the upside down images Thowfeek.
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.
The broadcasting commission is a seven-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.