The Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC) has fined opposition-aligned Raajje TV with an exorbitant MVR two million (USD 130,000) for live broadcasting a politician’s speech from an opposition demonstration that was deemed defamatory towards President Abdulla Yameen and a threat to national security.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) condemns the arbitrary decision to fine a media outlet for comments made by a politician during broadcast.
On August 8, the MBC imposed the maximum fine under the Maldives Defamation Act on Raajje TV for its contents during a broadcast on March 16, 2018. The MBC didn’t specify which speech during the broadcast had violated the law. Raajje TV has to pay the fine within 30 days or risk losing its broadcast license; and can only appeal the decision once the fine is paid.
This is the fourth time that Raajje TV has been fined for its content since March 2016. Raajje TV said ‘the fine is a targeted attack with no legal basis’ and imposed ‘with the sole intent of creating fear of President Yameen and his regime’.
Raajje TV in a statement said: “RaajjeTV believes that this is a calculated and well-coordinated attack to obstruct its efforts to make President Yameen’s government accountable ahead of next month’s presidential election… We note that the commission’s report on its decision is filled with fabrications.”
Raajje TV also claimed that the MBC ignored all requests by the station to clarify the accusations during the investigation stage.
The IFJ said: “The IFJ condemns the decision of the Maldives Broadcasting Commission to fine on Raajje TV. The media outlet should not be held responsible for the comments made by politicians during broadcast. This is the fourth fine in two years and shows that the MBC is attempting to silence opposition voices and muzzling with press freedom through the draconian defamation act. The IFJ demands immediate withdrawal of the fine and urge the Maldives government to respect press freedom and freedom of expression.”
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