DhiFM Plus airs upside down photo of broadcasting commission chair

Private broadcaster DhiTV and sister network DhiFM Plus have responded to threats of action by the Broadcasting Commission regarding violations of the broadcasting code of practice by displaying an upside down photo of the commission’s chair, Mohamed Shaheeb.

The commission issued a stern warning yesterday of possible action against the broadcaster for repeatedly displaying upside down photos of Elections Commission (EC) members in late February.

As the commission had previously decided that the move contravened the broadcasting code of practice, the broadcasting regulator said in a statement yesterday that its 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.

The upside down photo of Shaheeb on DhiFM’s visual radio channel – also aired on DhiTV during its downtime – is accompanied by a news ticker that reads, ‘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’.

Last month, the commission asked DhiFM Plus to publicly apologise for broadcasting an upside down photo of former EC Chair Fuwad Thowfeek.

The commission noted at the time that the station had previously been advised that the upside-down content was in violation of the code of practice, instructing the private broadcaster to issue a statement of apology to be aired between 8:00pm and 10:00pm before March 26.

The station had been asked in February to cease broadcasting upside down photos pending the conclusion of an investigation by the commission.

Similar advice was given to the broadcaster in November last year after upside down photos of three EC members were shown with a caption alleging electoral fraud in the annulled September 7 presidential election.

In March, the Supreme Court stripped Thowfeek and EC Deputy Chair Ahmed Fayaz of their membership over charges of contempt of court, prompting DhiTV and DhiFM to resume airing their upside down photos.

Following the incident, the broadcasting commission sent a circular to all broadcasters noting that it had received complaints and appealed against the disrespectful use of photos.