Privately-run Raajje TV has settled the MVR2 million fine levied on the local news channel by Maldives Broadcasting Commission (Broadcom) for the defamation of President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom.
Broadcom has earlier penalized the RaajjeTV five times, with a total of MVR3.7 million paid as settlement.
Raajje TV settled the payment to Maldives Inland Revenue Authority (MIRA), via their fund boxes “RaajjeTV Aburufulhu Fund”. There were a total of 5 Styrofoam boxes and 2 wooden boxes, all filled with MVR500 notes.
Raajje TV’s Chief Operating Officer, Hussain Fiyaz Moosa, briefed the press outside MIRA, and revealed that the 2 million fine was paid off completely with money donated by the community. Fiyaz further expressed that the company continues to receive a great deal of support from a multitude of citizens, media houses and private companies.
The opposition aligned news channel had generated the funds through various fund boxes placed across the island nation and by the sale of t-shirts.
“It is understood that a lot of Maldivians stand against MBC’s decision to fine the channel as evident by the support that the fund received.” said the COO. He further alleged that the charges were a deliberate attempt to obstruct news coverage during the upcoming presidential elections slated for September 23.
The verdict for the payment to be settled in a month, however, was passed unanimously by the commission. Should RaajjeTV fail to settle the payment in due time, Broadcom holds the authority to abolish or suspend the license of local media channel.
Raajje TV had earlier tried to file a case at the Civil Court to postpone the payment of the fine to a later date. However, Civil Court rejected the case stating that, according to the Anti-Defamation Act, any appeal on a fine imposed over a violation of the Anti-Defamation Act should be submitted after the fine is paid in full within the deadline.
RaajjeTV's lawyer, Nishan Ibrahim, stated that Broadcom failed to give a reasoning as to why the channel was fined and that the channel will seek answers through the courts instead and that Raajje TV intends to recover the fined amount.
President Yameen announced on September 5, confirming his decision to press charges against the company for publicly broadcasting an MDP news conference in which Yameen was defamed. This will be the 6th fine the company faces.