Broadcasting Commission cannot regulate way in which Supreme Court is addressed

The Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) has told the Supreme Court that asking media to write the names of persons in a specific way is against international best practice.

The commission’s letter was sent to the Supreme Court on Sunday (March 16) in response to a court request for MBC to enforce strict rules on how Supreme Court judges must be addressed in the media.

It was also pointed out to the court that the commission is mandated with regulating broadcast media alone.

MBC claims to have received a letter suggesting that the court’s justices were being addressed in ways other than how they should be, requesting that the commission inform all media outlets on the appropriate manner in which to write the names of the Supreme Court bench.

An official at MBC told Minivan News that the letter stipulated the Chief Justice Ahmed Faiz’s was to be preceded by the title ‘Chief Justice of the Maldives Honorable Al Ustaz’, the title ‘Justice Honorable Dr’ should be used for Justice Dr Ahmed Abdulla Didi, and ‘Justice Honorable Al Ustaz’ for the rest of the bench.

MBC’s reply to the court – signed by the commission President Mohamed Shaheeb – stated that it was not within the commission’s mandate to dictate the content of any station, and that broadcasters were free to work in accordance to their own editorial guidelines in such matters.

The commission highlighted that it does only what is mandated by the Broadcasting Act and regulations, and that it ensures that all licensed broadcasters abide by the code of conduct formulated by the commission.

The Maldives Media Council – established under the Maldives Media Council Act – is mandated with establishing and maintaining a code of conduct for journalists in the country. Minivan News has learned that the council has yet to be approached by court on this matter.

Meanwhile, the Maldives Journalists Association President Ahmed ‘Hirigaa’ Zahir has said that the association is also of the view that journalists should not be forced to use names of anyone in a specific way.

“Anyone can request the media to use write their name how they want it to be written. But it should not be a requirement. Media reports in simple language,” said Zahir.

“While members of parliament are addressed as ‘honorable member’ in the parliament or justices are addressed in a specific way within the courtroom, it does not have to be the case in reporting or speaking in general public.”


Maldives Journalists Association (MJA) drafting bill for minimum wage, health insurance

The Maldives Journalists Association (MJA) is drafting a bill to ensure journalists receive a minimum wage and health insurance.

MJA President Ahmed ‘Hirigaa’ Zahir told local media he expects Parliament to pass the bill, which would “ensure journalists can live without handouts”.

“We are saying that journalism is the fourth power of the nation. All other powers have security and everything else. Journalists are faced with grave threats. However, they don’t back down. Hence, such a bill is important,” Zahir said.

The MJA has previously worked to improve journalism in the Maldives, according to MJA Treasurer Adam Haleem.

“There are two institutions which parent the Maldives journalism. These are funded by the state budget. However, we could say that we work for perpetuity. We work without much of a budget. However, looking at the past two, four years, we have kept our eyes more open in media related areas. If a report is compiled by someone based on our work, I think that the work by MJA would take first place,” said Haleem.