The Maldives Broadcasting Commission has granted a license for the state broadcaster to provide cable television services across the Maldives.
The rebroadcasting license was issued to the Public Service Media at a ceremony on Tuesday afternoon.
PSM Managing Director Ibrahim Khaleel said the state broadcaster aims to provide cable TV service to all inhabited islands before the end of 2017.
“PSM will provide the service at the cheapest prices in the country,” he said.
Local company Medianet is currently the main cable TV service provider in the Maldives. Only three parties have so far been issued licenses to rebroadcast nationwide.
The PSM was established in April 2015 under a new law passed by the parliament to replace the Maldives Broadcasting Corporation – which previously operated the state television and radio stations – prompting the International Federation of Journalists and local affiliate Maldives Journalism Association to accuse the government of seizing control of public service broadcasting.
The PSM law required the state broadcaster to provide cable TV services despite broadcasting regulations prohibiting broadcasters from providing the service.
The broadcasting commission said it sought legal counsel and was advised that the PSM law supersedes the regulation.
The broadcasting regulator had previously issued licenses for the PSM to operate seven TV channels and four radio channels.
In July last year, PSM launched a new monthly magazine and announced plans to establish an English news channel called Maldives and a channel on parliamentary affairs.
The company has since launched the Majlis TV as well as a channel called YES TV aimed at youth, sports, and entertainment.
President Abdulla Yameen launched the youth TV channel in early April.
The PSM law also requires the company to distribute a printed daily newspaper and use social media to disseminate news.
The state broadcaster is managed by a seven-member governing board nominated by the president.
The board’s chairman, Ibrahim Umar Manik, was appointed chief operating officer of the government-aligned private station Channel 13 in August last year.
He was also the CEO of Avas, a pro-government news site.
Manik told The Maldives Independent at the time that he did see a conflict of interest in working in the private sector.
“The PSM Act does not prohibit me from taking on these positions,” he said.
The PSM has faced criticism for showing live telecasts of Yameen’s campaign symposiums as well as several programmes promoting the current administration. It routinely airs talk shows with ruling party MPs and ministers without an opposition voice as a counterweight.