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Private media raise concerns over broadcast equality amendment

Shaina Abdulla
26 June 2018, MVT 15:00
Journalists during a media coverage by the Parliament.
Shaina Abdulla
26 June 2018, MVT 15:00

Local private broadcasters have stated that the recently proposed amendment by the government to offer equal campaign broadcasts to all presidential candidates, will adversely affect the revenue of broadcasters.

In addition to equitable airtime, the proposed amendment to the General Elections Act further forbids the sale of more airtime to any candidate. The Act currently bars broadcasters from giving or selling more than 10 percent of the time allotted to one candidate, or a political party or a candidate representing a political party.

The station founded by Jumhoory Party leader and business tycoon Qasim Ibrahim, VMedia, has stated that the new amendment will avert the revenue collected by broadcasters for campaign advertisements.

VMedia COO Mohamed Asif expressed dissent, commenting that such amendments should only be applied to state-owned media broadcasters.

Raajje TV CEO Hussain Fiyaz Moosa had stated that the new amendment counters with Article 40 of the Constitution, on the right to acquire and hold property. However, he added that the media would follow the amendment if the parliament passed it.

Sangu TV CEO Ibrahim Waheed also commented on the new amendment, declaring it was unfair to all private broadcasters. Waheed highlighted on the loss of revenue the media would suffer due to the proposed amendment.

Waheed further justified that resources provided to state-owned media broadcasters were not facilitated to private broadcasters and, therefore, the government should not impose such a regulation unfair to certain parties in the media.

The amendment would also give Maldives Broadcasting Commission (Broadcom) the power to penalize any broadcaster that violates the regulations. Upon ratification of the amendment, Broadcom would establish regulations to receive complaints and penalize violators of the amendment. Broadcom would also be required to forward the case to the Elections Commission (EC) after investigation.

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