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TV channel, BroadCom under fire over defamatory content against ex-pres

Fathmath Shaahunaz
10 July 2017, MVT 14:10
Former President Maumoon shakes hands with Thulusdhoo MP Mohamed Waheed Ibrahim prior to departing for Singapore. PHOTO: HUSSAIN WAHEED/MIHAARU
Fathmath Shaahunaz
10 July 2017, MVT 14:10

Maldives Broadcasting Commission has come under fire over a song containing defamatory content against former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom that was aired on local television Channel 13.

The song was aired on the program “Nanaa Huvafen” late Sunday, depicting images of the former president likened to idol statues, along with other edited offensive images with slanderous captions in foul language.

People have taken to social media, declaring it the most belligerent act of defamation by a media outlet in the Maldives since the Defamation and Freedom of Speech Act came into effect late last year. They are also calling for members of the Broadcasting Commission to resign over the commission’s lack of action against Channel 13.

The content aired by the channel is in direction violation of the Defamation Act, which was passed by the government-ruled parliament last year declaring that the act will criminalise and prevent defamation. Hence, people on social media have raised questions as to why the institutions charged with enforcing the act are not taking action against a television channel that promotes the government.

The Broadcasting Commission has notably penalised local channel Raajje TV and cable service provider Medianet by hefty amounts, declaring that they had violated the Act by airing anti-government content that were defamatory. The commission has also penalised individual journalists in such cases. However, people on social media are harshly criticising the commission over its delay in taking action against Channel 13, describing the situation as discriminative and unjust.

Lawmakers have also expressed concern over the commission’s delay in taking action against Channel 13.

“Where is the Defamation Act? Where is Broadcasting Commission? Where is Media Council? Still running after Raajje TV? No shame,” tweeted Meedho MP Rozaina Adam.

The Broadcasting Commission has not been clear whether legal action is being taken against Channel 13.

Meanwhile, some supporters of the government have claimed that the images aired on Channel 13 on Sunday night were originally created by the opposition during former President Maumoon’s regime.

Former President Maumoon is currently in Singapore with his wife, Nasreena Ibrahim, attending to some personal matters.

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