Opposition expects government will transfer state media assets in spite of High Court ruling

Opposition MPs remain confident that the government will eventually hand over key assets of the Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation’s (MNBC) TV and radio operations, despite a High Court decision yesterday to suspend an existing lower court ruling requesting such a transfer.

Back in May, the Civil Court appeared to have ended a year-long tug of war between opposition MPs and the government over state media by ordering the MNBC to transfer assets and staff from its radio and tv operatons to the parliament-established Maldives Broadcasting Corporation (MBC).

Despite Yesterday’s High Court ruling to withhold the Civil Court’s earlier verdict on transferring Television Maldives (TVM) and Voice of Maldives (VOM) to MBC, Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MP Dr Abdulla Mausoom believed the government would in the long-run have to hand over the broadcast assets.

“The government has to follow the rule of law on this issue,” he said. “I think ultimately the government will have to hand over the [MNBC assets] as has been required under the [Majlis] legislation.”

The High Court had now ruled in favour of the government over the dispute, announcing that any transfer of assets from the MNBC would be withheld until it ordered otherwise.

According to Mausoom, the High Court’s decision was presently being seen as a temporary ruling, claiming the judiciary had already had the final say on the fate of TVM and VOM after the lower court ruled that the MNBC was legally obligated to hand over the assets.

However, online local news service Sun has reported that upon passing the High Court judgement, Chief Judge Ahmed Shareef claimed he had acted on “legal” and “equitable considerations” in withholding the Civil Court decision, a decision he claimed was made on the basis of reasons provided by the MNBC.

The case had been ongoing for over a year and become an increasing contentious issue following an initial government decision to transfer the assets and staff from Television Maldives (TVM) and Voice of Maldives (VOM) to the 100 percent government-owned corporate entity MNBC.  TVM is now broadcast as the MNBC One channel.

By April 2010, the opposition-majority parliament had taken action to create MBC and passed an order for the government to transfer MNBC’s assets and staff to this body.

MNBC has been labelled pro-government by critics, while proponents argue that as most other mass media is owned by senior opposition political figures and favours the opposition, the government had no alternative voice. In being formed by parliament, the MBC has a board appointed by the Majlis, to which it is also answerable. The government has claimed this structure serves only to ensure political influence in the running of the state broadcaster and refused to comply with the legislation on these grounds.

Opposition figures and high profile political activists such as Umar Naseer, a dismissed Deputy Leader of the DRP, have held protests requesting the “freedom” of state media from what they allege is government control and influence.


2 thoughts on “Opposition expects government will transfer state media assets in spite of High Court ruling”

  1. Umar naseer must realize that we have only 3 or 4 tv channels .. After a long 30 years of media hybernation, now the media ownership has been concentrated in the hands of corporations - (villa - vtv and champa dhitv , became billionaires with the help of former government ) and to some extent its common sense that these media's Glorifying the dictator gayoom and his loyalists .. While they label them self as free and independent media ..thank you

  2. Of course the government will. They've managed to buy out half the board of MBC.

    Problem solved - MBC is now fit to manage state media.

    Too bad we'll never have a public broadcaster in the near future.


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