The Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) has expressed concern over boycotts of certain media outlets by state institutions, political parties and other entities.
In a press release issued yesterday, the MJA stated it had received multiple complaints from media personnel regarding the issue. One such complaint alleged that private broadcaster RaajjeTV had been given exclusive access to interviews with the MDP following former President Nasheed’s recent trip abroad.
The MJA also highlighted the President’s Office’s apparent refusal to cooperate with private broadcaster Raajje TV. The organisation has claimed that these alleged media boycotts, which are perceived as being sympathetic to opposing political views, were becoming alarmingly common in the Maldives.
Speaking to Minivan News, MJA President Ahmed ‘Hiriga’ Zahir said that although the boycott issue had been present from the time multi-party politics was established in the Maldives, the problem had become a growing concern of late.
“At a time when media itself is so polarized and prone to political rivalry, we are concerned that political actors are finding it harder to accept media reports which are not aligned with their own personal opinions. This leads state institutions or parties to allow access only to selected media, in effect denying other media the opportunity to fulfill their journalistic tasks,” he said.
Hiriga stressed that owing to a lack of resources, media outlets may not be able to attend every event they are invited to, adding that state institutions and political parties must however remain equally accessible to all media.
He emphasized the importance of not boycotting any media outlet based on their editorial policies or perceptions of political leaning, while at the same time noting the importance of the media’s objectivity in its reporting of news.
The MJA also stated that a boycott of any media institution would be neither encouraged nor accepted by the association. The statement also called for political actors and the general public to lodge complaints with the relevant media authorities should they have complaints concerning standards of journalism.
In response to the MJA press statement, MDP Spokesperson and MP Hamid Abdul Gafoor stated that the party held no such policies to boycott media outlets. He went on to say that the party’s events were open to all media and that he felt some outlets opted to not attend them intentionally.
President’s Office Spokesperson, Abbas Adil Riza, Media Secretary Masood Imad and the Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz were not responding to calls at the time of press.
Last month, state officials accused Raajje TV of acting irresponsibly with its reporting by spreading what it called “baseless” allegations about the conduct of officers and inciting violence.
Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed previously named RaajjeTV as ‘enemies of state’ in a press conference held on July24, the same day on which the Maldives Police Service released a press statement stating its refusal to cooperate with or provide protection to the same channel.
Meanwhile, Raajje TV last month continued to accuse police of targeting, assaulting and harrasing its reporters.
A statement from Raajje TV on July 10 read: “Raajje TV journalists have been forced to live in fear as they have increasingly become targets of attacks by the national security forces, particularly the police service. The station also believes that these attacks and harassment have been the source of emotional distress and psychological damage to all Raajje TV employees.”