Reference No: 74/07/2012
2 July 2012
Maldivian Democratic Party Calls on Communication Authority of Maldives to Authorise Nationwide License to Raajje TV Immediately
The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) vigorously condemns the Communication Authority of Maldives (CAM) for withholding a satellite uplink license from of Raajje TV, a television station that has been critical of the current regime. The satellite uplink license would allow Raajje TV to broadcast news and programming across the Maldives, and to reach audiences in the outer atolls where independent media is scarce and state owned media dominate the airwaves. The denial of the license is a politically motivated attempt to suppress alternative views in the Maldives. The MDP calls on all relevant authorities to investigate to look into this matter immediately and with the utmost urgency.
On Sunday, July 1, 2012, Raajje TV officials were informed that the CAM denied its request for a nationwide broadcast license citing that, “broadcasting policies are under review.” Raajje TV is one of the few media outlets that are not influenced by the regime and its allies. The CAM however falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Transport and Communication which is controlled in the Cabinet by Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhooree Party.
Noting media is the fourth branch of government and a crucial ingredient of any democracy, MDP fears that without Raajje TV, views opposing the current government will not reach those who live outside the capital island Male,’ thus violating their universal right to information as guaranteed by the international treaties and agreements the Maldives have signed.
There are four television news stations in the Maldives, including Raajje TV. Television Maldives (TVM), formally called Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation (MNBC), is the state owned radio and television broadcaster. Mutinying police and military officers entered the premises of the MNBC by force on the morning of 7 February, hours before President Nasheed was forced to resign in a coup backed by factions of the police and military. Since MNBC’s violent takeover, and its rebranding as “TVM,” the name it held under Gayoom’s regime, it has continuously denied airtime to MDP leaders and supporters. In March 2012, the MDP requested the media watchdog, Maldives Broadcast Commission to investigate the TVM and Voice of Maldives of violating the agreements mandated by the Public Broadcasting Services (PBS) Act of August 2010 of producing biased content and not giving adequate exposure to all political groups.However, the Commission has not yet responded to these requests. Television stations,DhiTV and VTV are owned by regime supporters, “Champa” Ahmed Moosa and Gasim Ibrahim respectively. The MDP believes these two tourism tycoons helped to finance the 7 February coup, and that their news organizations are biased against the MDP.
“We see this as an attempt to completely silence all independent media in the Maldives. The CAM’s decision to deny Rajje TV’s request for nationwide broadcasting, is denial to access to information by the regime that has demonstrated a clear pattern of suppressing freedom of the press since taking power. Maldives media was completely under the control of the government with little freedom for free and unbiased reporting until 2003. The democracy movement gave people a way to speak out and to have access to information as a basic right.
Furthermore, Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights ensures freedom to receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers is a fundamental right.
Dr. Waheed’s coup-installed regime has attempted to harass Raajje TV and other independent media and journalists on a regular basis and this final blow in their pattern of repression is beyond tolerable,” said Hamid Abdul Ghafoor, MDP’s Spokesperson for International Affairs.
Ghafoor continues, “We are party to several U.N. and international treaties that protect media freedom and the right to information. We must respect these treaties. People must have access to information.” Hamid added.
MDP calls upon the international community and the media watchdogs to carefully investigate media repression in the Maldives and to place pressure on the current administration to cease and desist from such undemocratic practices. It is the MDP position that unless speedy and efficient measures are taken, the democratic gains in the Maldives such as the right to information, will backslide completely. The MDP also and calls on the CAM to revert their decision immediately.
Hamid Abdul Ghafoor
Spokesperson, International Affairs