Parliament has announced the distribution of one-off subsidies to be received by the media this year, with 50 percent of a total Rf 4 million being allocated to VTV and DhiTV.
35 percent has been allocated to radio and 15 percent to print media.
“I personally don’t think it’s fair,” noted President of the Maldives Journalists Association (MJA) and editor of Haveeru, Ahmed ‘Hiriga’ Zahir, but said but could not give any further comment on the matter.
Press Secretary for the President’s Office, Mohamed Zuhair explained the funds for the subsidies were allocated by the Parliamentary Finance Committee “after they made amendments to the budget.”
“They should not be deciding administrative methods of how it should be given out,” he observed.
The country’s new media council, elected today and intended to regulate the media in the country, has the MJA more concerned, however.
The council consists of fifteen members, seven of whom have been elected from the public and the remaining eight from the media sector.
Hiriga said “we don’t agree with this sort of council [because] almost half [the members] are nominated from the government.” He added these members were “elected on a political basis” and it was not “a right thing to do.”
The eight members of the media to be in the council are: Saif Azhar from Haama Daily; Mohamed Nazeef from Atoll Radio; Shiyam Mohamed Waheed from VTV; Ahmed Abdulla Shaheed from Haveeru; Musoon Hilmy from DhiFM; Ahmed Muhsin from TVM; Mohamed Haleem (Sungari) and Ismail Rasheed.
Hiriga said the council would have the power, not to censor media, but to inform the public whether they believe a report “is biased or wrong.”
He said he was lobbying with the government to try to “block” the council, and are “sending amendments to the Parliament.” He believes the media should monitor itself.
Zuhair said the media council “is necessary” and because a majority of the members are from the media, “they will surely be fair.”
Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Dr Ali Sawad, said the the idea of a media council has been discussed before and there has been “legislation to that effect” proposed to Parliament earlier.
He said the council was meant to “regulate the media” and they would look at “ethical issues and all regulatory aspects of the media.”
Dr Sawad noted the council would not be politically influenced since members have been “elected by peers” from both the general public and the media. He added the council would be “an independent legislative authority” that would operate under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.
Who got what
Parliament has released a list stating how much money each news company will receive. All the figures are in Maldivian Ruffiya and amount to a total of Rf 4 million.
Villa TV: 1,060,000.00
Future TV: 120,000.00
Radio Atoll: 294,000.00
Sun FM: 364,000.00
Faraway FM: 252,000.00
Haveeru Daily: 246,000.00
Aafathis Daily: 162,000.00
Miadhu News: 102,000.00
Haama Daily: 90,000.00