Maldives seeks to bring all media under one regulatory body

Journalists pictured in front of Maldives Media Council (MMC). PHOTO/MIHAARU

Journalists pictured in front of Maldives Media Council (MMC). PHOTO/MIHAARU

The government submitted a bill to parliament on Sunday, seeking to appoint a single body to regulate all media outlets of the nation.

The first hearing of the Maldives Media Commission bill, which was lobbied by member of ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and Ungoofaaru MP Jaufar Dawood, will be held this Tuesday. Details of the bill have not been disclosed yet.

PPM’s parliamentary group leader and Villimale MP Ahmed Nihan told Mihaaru on Tuesday that passing the bill will result in the annulment of Maldives Media Council (MMC) and Maldives Broadcasting Commission (MBC). All media outlets of the country will then be brought under a new, single umbrella “Maldives Media Commission”.

Currently, MBC regulates all broadcasting stations, while MMC is the parent body of all print and online media. Both institutions are operated under two separate laws.

MP Nihan confirmed that the new bill seeks to bring all media under the same regulatory body, but he did not provide specifics.

The media council comprises 15 members, eight of whom represent various media while the other seven are elected by the public. The council is a separate independent institution of the government.

Meanwhile, the broadcasting commission is mandated with the regulation of broadcasting television and radio stations, as well as ensuring responsible practice of free speech in media. The commission’s members are appointed by the parliament.

While the government is seeking to dissolve MMC and MBC, some PPM members of the government-controlled parliament had previously voiced opinions against the media council. The parliamentary Economic Affairs Committee had also released a report, claiming that there is no need for the media council.

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