TVM anchor sacked after alleging state broadcaster bias

The Maldives Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) sacked journalist Ali Shamin on Thursday (March 5) following a tweet in which he alleged the state broadcaster Television Maldives (TVM) was biased in its coverage of the recent political unrest.

The news anchor was suspended on February 23 for allegedly breaching confidentiality policies and undermining public trust in the institution.


TVM anchor suspended after tweet alleging state broadcaster bias

A TV anchor with the state broadcaster Maldives Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) has been suspended following a tweet in which he alleged state run Television Maldives (TVM) was biased in favor of the government in covering recent political unrest.

TVM’s Director of News and Current Affairs, Mohamed Jinah, sent a letter to Ali Shamin on February 23, stating he had been suspended until further notice.

Jinah alleged Shamin had violated MBC staff code of conduct and breached policies on confidentiality. His tweet also undermined public trust in the state broadcaster, the letter said.

Shamin subsequently said he had been punished because of his tweet, but that the majority of his colleagues agreed with his stand.

The tweet came amidst heightened political tension withe the arrest of former President Mohamed Nasheed on Sunday and the arrest of former Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim on charges of terrorism on February 10.


Broadcasters Lobby Group calls on president to investigate ‘riding fees’

The Broadcasters Lobby Group has appealed to President Abdulla Yameen to look into the matter of cable TV provider Medianet charging a ‘riding fee’ to broadcast local channels while it charges no such fees to show international channels.

The Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) on Thursday approved a provision whereby Medianet can charge MVR4 for each household as a ‘riding fee’ when local channels are viewed in Seenu and Kaafu atoll if channels are hosted through their network.

In the appeal to the president, the lobby group alleged that MBC is discriminating against local broadcasters and that it was an attempt to eradicate local channels, local media reports.

“As things have reached this point, we believe that it is obligatory for the head of state to look into this matter,” a press release by the lobby group read.


Gaza fund donations handed over to Qatar Red Crescent

A donation of MVR 29.4 million (US$1.9 million) to help Gaza has been handed over to the Qatar Red Crescent at an event held on Wednesday (August 27) at the Maldives Broadcasting Commission.

The unprecedented donation drive by Maldivians following the conflict in Gaza culminated in a 33 hour telethon aired across multiple participating broadcasters.

The cheque was received by Qatar Red Crescent President Dr Mohamed Bin Ghanim Al Madida.

Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon, Help Gaza association’s Steering Commitee Chairman and MBC Chairman Ibrahim Umar Manik, and Gaza Fund Maldives representative Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla handed the check over on behalf of the Maldivian people.

The donation is intended to be used to supply food and water and to help Gaza recover from damage sustained after the Israeli Defense Force launched an offensive in retaliation to rocket fire from within the territory.


Row escalates over FIFA World Cup broadcasting rights

Cable TV service provider Medianet is suing the Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) after the commission ordered the company to halt airing FIFA World Cup matches on any channels except state broadcaster Television Maldives and private broadcaster Villa TV (VTV).

Medianet has been airing matches on channels Sony Six, Sony Six HD and Sony Pix under rebroadcasting agreements. But the MBC said only TVM and VTV are authorized to broadcast World Cup matches.

In a letter to the MBC, Medianet’s legal representatives claimed the MBC’s order is unlawful and said a proper investigation must be conducted.

MBC had said Medianet’s agreement with Sony MSM had not been made in accordance with the Maldives rebroadcasting regulations.

MBC also stated that Medianet had charged an extra fee from customers in early June for viewing the matches on channels 100 and 100 plus against the rebroadcasting regulations.

Medianet has accused MBC of prejudice against the company and said it will sue the company and every individual member for damages caused by the commission’s order.

The company filed a case at the Civil Court on Wednesday seeking annulment of the Medianet’s order. According to local media, the judge presiding over the case estimated hearings will be completed by Sunday.

Medianet further stated that the MBC order released wrongful allegations to the public and said the commission’s sudden order issued to halt broadcasting of matches on channels other than TVM and VTV could be interpreted as an attempt to benefit certain parties.

MBC has also responded to the letter sent by Medianet’s legal representative, dismissing the claims that their orders are unlawful. They, in turn, have ordered Medianet to follow their orders without setting further conditions

MBC also stated that Medianet had charged an extra fee from customers for viewing the matches on channels 100 and 100 plus against the rebroadcasting regulations.

It also stated that the commission has received complaints that Medianet had refused to cooperate with repeated requests from TVM and VTV to broadcast their matches in high definition. It advised the company to provide such services to all channels without discrimination.

MBC has further announced on Wednesday that it is opening an opportunity for other interested parties to apply for cable TV provision licenses. Currently the only company providing the service is Medianet.

The commission claimed that it is taking this step to increase competition in the field, which will in turn lead to the provision of better services at more competitive prices to the public.


MBC orders Medianet to stop airing World Cup matches on channels except TVM and VTV

The Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) has ordered Medianet to stop airing FIFA world cup matches on any channel besides local state broadcaster TVM and privately owned channel VTV.

In a letter sent to Medianet, MBC stated that the agreement with Sony MSM – which Medianet had shared with MBC – was not made in accordance with the rebroadcasting regulations.

MBC also stated that Medianet had charged an extra fee from customers for viewing the matches on channels 100 and 100 plus against the rebroadcasting regulations.


Broadcasting commission to formulate regulations on listed events

The Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) has decided to formulate new guidelines on broadcasting and rebroadcasting listed events.

The move comes during an ongoing investigation into cable TV provider Medianet’s broadcasting of the FIFA world cup without obtaining the necessary rights.

The MBC said it had decided to formulate separate regulations on listed events in order to eliminate difficulties in obtaining event rights and protect rights of private and public broadcasters.

The commission intends to consult the broadcast advisory committee and the public on a first draft of the regulation


Medianet under investigation on suspicion of rebroadcasting World Cup football matches without rights

The Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) is investigating cable TV provider Medianet on suspicion of rebroadcasting ongoing FIFA World Cup football matches without broadcasting rights.

Speaking to news agency Haveeru, MBC Secretary General Noora Ali said the commission was not aware that a special channel set up by Media Net – called ‘Ice’ – had the proper rights to air World Cup matches.

Only the Maldives Broadcasting Corporation’s TVM and private broadcaster Villa TV (VTV) are licensed to broadcast the matches, she said.

Medianet had charged an extra MVR100 from its customers to gain access to Ice.

According to Haveeru, Medianet has now stopped airing Ice. Instead, it is broadcasting World Cup matches through India’s Sony Six channel. Customers will have to pay an additional fee to view the channel, Haveeru said.


Politicians, gangs and religious extremists threaten media freedom

Maldivian journalists have reported threats from political parties, gangs, religious extremists, parliamentarians and the government.

A landmark “Threat Analysis Report” by the Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) found that 84 percent of journalists surveyed reported being threatened at least once, while five percent reported being threatened on a daily basis.

Journalists identified political parties to be the top source of threat. Gangs, religious extremists and parliament placed second while the government was rated third.

The MBC also unveiled a “Broadcast Content and Complaints During Presidential Election 2013” on Wednesday which found former President Mohamed Nasheed received the most negative coverage of any of the presidential candidates across all stations except opposition aligned broadcaster Raajje TV.


The Threat Analysis Report is aimed at identifying threats to journalism and media freedom in the Maldives between 2011 and 2013.

Of the journalists surveyed, 29 percent said they felt the threats were serious and could threaten their lives while 27 percent said they were hesitant to report due to threats.

Over 30 percent said they were reluctant to report on gang activity.

Threats came in various forms, with 20 percent delivered in person, 18 percent via social media and 15 percent through telephone calls. Journalists also reported being stalked and family members being intimidated.

However, a significant percentage of the journalists threatened (43 percent) did not report threats to the authorities.

Television stations meanwhile reported being vandalized. These include an arson attack that destroyed Raajje TV offices in October 2013 and an attack on Villa TV in March 2012. TV stations have reported these cases, but said they are not happy with police progress in investigating cases.

The TV stations have expressed concern that gangs and religious extremists may step up the scale and seriousness of attacks in the future.

Broadcast media told the MBC that media threats are caused due to attempts by political forces to control the media and failure by journalists to practice ethical journalism in a turbulent political environment.

Police refusal to support and cooperate with media outlets as well as lack of tolerance for different views were also identified as underlying reasons for threats against the press.

Access to information

All TV stations and 72 percent of journalists reported difficulties in obtaining information from the government and other state institutions.

Access to information is rated as the second biggest obstacle to free media in the Maldives. The top obstacle is political influence while discrimination in providing information is rated third.

The management of TV stations said stations are self-sustainable and said they do not believe their content is influenced by financiers.

However, they told the MBC that journalists do not practice fair, responsible and ethical journalism in the Maldives.

Meanwhile, 54 percent of journalists said their stations allowed practice of free, fair, responsible and ethical journalism. But 69 percent acknowledged presence of “activist journalists” in the Maldivian media.

Only four percent of journalists said there was no editorial independence at the stations they worked at.

Presidential election content

The MBC monitored prime time content of nine television stations before the first round of presidential elections – between August 7 and September 6, 2013 – to compile the report on Broadcast Content and Complaints During Presidential Election 2013.

According to the report President Nasheed received the least (8.69 percent) coverage on public broadcasting channel Television Maldives (TVM). Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim (18 percent) gained the most coverage on TVM  followed by current President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom (16 percent).

Each of the commercial channels monitored gave a significantly large percentage of positive coverage for a single presidential candidate.

The only exception to this was Jazeera channel which divided coverage more equally compared to other channels but favored Nasheed by approximately five percent, the MBC said.

The rest of the channels were divided among the candidates as follows; former President Dr. Mohamed Waheed dominated DhiTV, DhiFM and Channel One, Gasim dominated Villa TV (VTV) which he owns, President Yameen dominated Channel 13 and SunTV Plus, while President Nasheed dominated RaajjeTV.