Raaje TV alleges political motivation behind satellite uplink delay

The chairman of private broadcaster Raaje TV has alleged that government interference is to blame for the channel being denied a satellite uplink permit to broadcast across the country’s atolls.

Akram Kamaaluddin today claimed that the Ministry of Transport and Communication had been interfering in the permit matter, resulting in the channel yesterday being unable to broadcast programming via satellite.  He claimed the decision was taken despite earlier assurances from the Communication Authority of the Maldives (CAM) that a license would be issued.

The Communications Ministry responded to the claims saying it would be providing Raaje TV with the required permit “as soon as possible”, adding that the private broadcaster was treated no differently to other channels in the country.

However, Akram said that after applying for an uplink permit two weeks ago, Raaje TV still found itself yesterday only able to broadcast programming through the country’s limited cable network – making the channel unavailable to an estimated 80 percent of the national television audience.

“We had previously been supplied an uplink through [telco] Wataniya, however there were some problems with this service. We therefore decided to set up an uplink on our own.  This requires permission from the CAM,” he said.

Despite assurances that the permit would be granted, Akram claimed that the CAM responded it would have to issue a temporary license to the broadcaster for six months.

“However, after I called CAM yesterday afternoon, I was informed they were unable to do this as the [Communications] Minister said they were in the process of introducing a new policy,” he said.

Having not received any notice about the new regulations being imposed. Akram alleged that Raaje TV was the only channel to have been unable to acquire the permit, a decision he said was politically motivated due to the channel’s news coverage since February’s controversial transfer of power.

Raaje TV’s allegations have been backed by the now opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), which contends that the CAM had withheld the satellite uplink license due to the broadcaster having been critical of the current government.

“The satellite uplink license would allow Raajje TV to broadcast news and programming across the Maldives, and to reach audiences in the outer atolls where independent media is scarce and state owned media dominate the airwaves,” the MDP claimed in a statement today. “The denial of the license is a politically motivated attempt to suppress alternative views in the Maldives. The MDP calls on all relevant authorities to investigate to look into this matter immediately and with the utmost urgency.”

Responding to the allegations, Communications Minister Dr Ahmed Shamheed told Minivan News today that the allegations of the ministry acting in a politically motivated manner were a result of Akram “making his own judgement” about the matter.

He therefore maintained that Raaje TV would be given the uplink permit, though was unable to set a time-line for when it would be made available.

“I spoke with Raaje TV yesterday and told them they would be given the license as soon as possible” he said. “I don’t have a time limit for when this will be.”

Shamheed stressed that the process did take time and that the CAM’s Chief Executive, Ilyas Ahmed, had been away until the last few days, delaying response to the matter.

“I think this is an overreaction on Raaje TV’s part,” he claimed.

MJA concern

While uncertain as to whether there was truth in the claims of political motivation preventing Raaje TV from acquiring the uplink permit, the Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) nonetheless today raised concerns over the failure for a license to be issued.

MJA president ‘Hiriga’ Ahmed Zahir said that the association believed that no government should not interfere or block any specific political views from the nation’s airwaves.

Zahir added that when dealing with the issue of permits, once a media outlet was approved a license by the Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC), the government should not seek to interfere in issues relating to the CAM.

“I don’t have all the information right now, but Raaje TV has not given an uplink service,” he said. “Government should not intervene in these matters, that is the MJA’s view,” he said.

Back in May, Raaje TV alleged its reporters had faced physical attacks and intimidation by security forces since the transfer of power, while claiming ministers of the current administration had refused to engage with the station.

However, the Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) said at the time that there were no “challenges to freedom of the press” in the present political environment.

During April, the offices of private broadcaster Villa Television (VTV) were attacked during confrontations between security forces and alleged anti-government protesters in Male’ on March 19.

VTV was briefly brought off air following the incident – an act claimed by the station’s owner to be tantamount to “terrorism”. Local media bodies also criticised anti-government protesters for allegedly threatening journalists and media personnel covering the clashes.

A month before this incident, Maldives Media Council (MMC) President Mohamed Nazeef expressed doubt over whether a free media can flourish in the Maldives at the present time.

“We see that although we talk of democracy and freedom of media and expression, I don’t think society is ready to digest a free media,” said Nazeef.


14 thoughts on “Raaje TV alleges political motivation behind satellite uplink delay”

  1. MMC cancelled and postponed their commissions governorships election date caz Bagee DhiTV could not submit its voting formalities. This shows the status of the so called independent commission MMC.

  2. Puppet Waheed are you listening??? This is freedom of the press then??

    The coup regime are the same as the old brutal dictatorship.

  3. “I don’t have a time limit for when this will be.”

    And why not? How many morons does it take to issue such a license? This is clearly politically motivated as the regime does not want to see anything critical of them to be seen by the population at large.

  4. Raajje TV's claims were backed by the opposition MDP?

    Don't make me laugh. We are one of those strange countries where nothing much is done to hide political bias or affiliation.

    Raajje TV was established and owned by a Nasheed-regime Deputy Minister and MDP member Akram Kamaluddin who continues to be the channel's CEO. The channel's Deputy CEO is also a kid who coincidentally is a member of the MDP's media committee.

    One of the announcers is party lead activist and Nasheed-associate Aniya's daughter.

    It is a party channel that lacks any real programming and only airs news bulletins featuring updates about the MDPs activities.

    At least DhiTV is not owned on the face of it by party activists and political appointees. Shame, shame Raajje TV.

  5. Atten. Mr.Nazeef -We see that although we talk of democracy and freedom of media and expression, I don’t think society is ready to digest a free media,”

  6. No matter what anyone says you know that I support and back only the all high and mighty Maumoon. Nothing anyone can say will change that.
    Only VTV and DhiTV will ever satisfy my need for praise to Maumoon.

  7. “We see that although we talk of democracy and freedom of media and expression, I don’t think society is ready to digest a free media,” said Nazeef

    Is Nazeef the right man to be the president of Maldives Media Council. I doubt... he seem to have NO Idea about what to with his job.

    Another nut job who pockets a monthly salary of MR50,000.00 from public money.

  8. Maldives Media Council Act should be amended to remove government influence. In election,

    This years Media Council election was influenced by Minister Adheeb and Deputy Minister Hussain Lirar of Tourism and director general of National Library.

    After processing the selection process they cancelled it. They placed Media people in public candidates seats. They provided the opportunity for non working media organizations to vote in council election. 50% of the voters were not media.

  9. I wonder how many of us give a real thought and face reality? For sure we are not at all developed people. Only recently we knew Democracy existed. Most of us were beggars or always depending on someone. You would not imagine how corrupted you are! We will not be able to to move on until the people are independent! There will be no license for without being independent....

  10. "No matter what anyone says you know that I support and back only the all high and mighty Maumoon. Nothing anyone can say will change that.
    Only VTV and DhiTV will ever satisfy my need for praise to Maumoon."
    Heh! heh!

    really funny!

  11. @tsk tsk on Tue, 3rd Jul 2012 7:23 AM

    "It is a party channel that lacks any real programming and only airs news bulletins featuring updates about the MDPs activities."

    Is there a law against that? Is that illegal? If not, what's your point?

    Media are owned by tycoons and polticians in this country, just as in all the democracies of the world! Everyone has their viewpoint. The more the merrier. In fact, we should have more of these. The public can decide which one they choose to view and believe in.

  12. Oh how naive some people in Addu have become. Let me humor your question Addu.

    Please note the difference between an actual situation and the ideals that we aspire to.

    First let us examine the idealistic position as provided by our laws.

    Section 37, b, (1) of the Broadcasting Act (16/2010) requires broadcasters to do their utmost to ensure that news and current affairs are provided in a balanced manner without bias towards any party.

    Failure to even make a rudimentary effort at following this requirement in the Chapter on Media Code of Ethics is a highly undesirable behavior on the part of the media. Rather than sit back and enjoy the open bias let us all try and pressure our media outlets to practice higher standards of content production.

    Also Section 4 (b) of the Broadcasting Regulations (R11-2012) issued by the statutory media regulator, the Maldives Broadcasting Commission, requires that broadcasting licenses cannot be provided to associations that are formed to promote a political party.

    Please also read Section 74 (a) of the Companies Act (10/96) which says that in the case of a company incorporated in the Maldives which uses its status to commit an illegal act then the Directors on its Board found responsible for such a violation can be held liable by the courts.

    Leave aside the legal position on this matter and shall we consider your assertions about international practice and realpolitik.

    True mass media outlets are usually backed by political financing and often work to further specific political interests. But this is practiced in other countries within certain limits. Those limits are not yet understood by our media outlets which defame persons, infringe privacy and openly advocate for a particular political party in broad daylight.

    No Addu I cannot support your lets-sit-back-and-enjoy attitude towards our backwards regression towards an amoral society devoid of ethics and standards altogether.

  13. @tsk tsk. You are one of the coup leaders. You don't deserve to show all of us how good you are in politics and law. The Fact is once you have been a Baghee then you will always be a Baghee!!

    Kutti Nasheed Go call Gasim to get some cash !

  14. Yes what happened to addu?

    Before he was sensible, now he is stark raving mad MDP propagandist. I think he is a selfish opportunist who has grudge against Waheed.

    Jealousy is not good.


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