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.


Government temporarily extends cafe hours for World Cup

The Ministry of Economic Development has decided to temporarily extend the closing time for food outlets during the World Cup.

An announcement from the ministry issued yesterday stated that food outlets will be allowed to operate until 3am from June 14 until July 14.

The ministry requested service providers and customers to observe socially acceptable behavior during these hours.

Interested businesses are to obtain a special temporary permit from the ministry.

Malé City Council has told Minivan News that, following this decision, the council will once again renew its efforts to bring back 24 hours opening times for shops and cafe’s.

While the World Cup matches run into to the early hours in Maldives, many people stay up to watching the games – some at public screens and in cafes.

Football is the most popular sport in country, with President Abdulla Yameen recently describing it as the “king or queen of sports” in the Maldives.

Many international football tournaments, particularly the World Cup, generate huge enthusiasm across the country with media and businesses such as electronic equipment dealers making special offers and promotions for the season.

Currently, all food outlets in the Maldives are required to be closed after 1am hours, and shops by 11pm.

24 hour permit were issued to one Malé eatery in 2003, and since then a few more businesses have been allowed to operate around the clock.

In December 2010, however,  the government decided to give permission to all cafe’s who made such a request, allowing 24 hour shops for the first time in 2011.

A senior member of the Economic Ministry at the time said that the government wanted to open more opportunities for businesses and were in the process of reviewing laws and regulations to end restrictions.

In October 2012, however,  Dr Mohamed Waheed’s administration revoked all permits issued for 24 hours businesses “for national security reasons” as a response to increasing criminal activity. The decision was made in the aftermath of the brutal murder of the MP and moderate Islamic Scholar Dr Afrasheem Ali.

A total of 44 businesses were affected by this decision in the capital Malé city alone – leading to public discontentment.

President Abdulla Yameen’s government has continued the reduced opening hours, deciding against bringing back 24 hour businesses.

In March this year, Malé City Council unanimously passed a resolution to work towards bringing back the 24 hour permits through dialogue with the government to “fulfill basic necessities of people”.

“We will do whatever it takes. This is the capital city, and there are 24 hours ferries operating, people coming from other islands, people are working round the clock. There should be some way for them to eat or buy things they need. We are talking about basic necessities of the people,” Councilman Shamau Shareef told Minivan News at the time.

The council today said that this attempt was unsuccessful due to immediate negative comments on the issue from the government, adding that the council was not consulted or informed of the extended World Cup opening times.

Speaking to Minivan News today Deputy Mayor Shifa Mohamed said the council will now renew its efforts.

“We are not talking about allowing all cafe’s and shops to run 24 hours. We asked [the government] to allow a few shops and cafe’s to run like that to fulfill basic necessities of the people,” said Shifa.


Maldives beaten 4-0 in World Cup qualifying game against Iran

The Maldives national football team lost 4 nil to Iran in Tehran last night in the first leg of the World Cup qualifying group stage match.

Striker Karim Ansarifard opened the scoring in the fourth minute but had to wait until the 62nd minute to get his second. Captain Ali Karimi added the third goal when he scored from a corner six minutes later while substitute Saeid Daghighi netted the fourth with two minutes to go. 

Maldives will have to beat the three-times Asian Champions with a higher score in the return leg on July 28 in Male’ to qualify for the second group stage.

Iran set a World Cup qualifying record when it beat the Maldives 17-0 in 1997. However the last time the two nations met in April 2000, Iran won the Asian Cup qualifying game 3-0.


Spain to win World Cup: Paul the Octopus

Paul, the world’s leading octopus fortune teller, has selected Spain as the winner of the 2010 World Cup.

The so-far infallible invertebrate, also known as the mighty mollusc medium, picked the outcome of all six of Germany’s World Cup matches so far, and took only three minutes to tip Spain to beat the Netherlands.

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