Chairman of state broadcaster now heads ruling party TV station, news website

Chairman of state broadcaster now heads ruling party TV station, news website
September 20 15:06 2015

Ibrahim Umar Manik, the chairman of state broadcaster, is now the head of a private ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) aligned TV station and a news website.

Manik, who chairs the state’s Public Service Media (PSM) board, was appointed as the chief operating officer of PPM’s Channel 13 in August. He has now taken on the role of chief executive officer of Avas, a news website set up by Vice President Ahmed Adeeb.

“The PSM Act does not prohibit me from taking on these positions. The law was written by parliamentarians, who represent the Maldivian public,” Manik told The Maldives Independent when asked if he saw a conflict of interest in working in the private sector.

PSM was established in late April under a new law passed by the parliament to replace the Maldives Broadcasting Corporation, which previously operated the state television and radio station.

The new law required the state broadcaster distribute a printed daily newspaper and use social media to disseminate programmes.

The International Federation of Journalists and local affiliate Maldives Journalists Association accused the government of seizing control of public service broadcasting. The PSM is managed by a seven-member governing board nominated by the president.

Manik is the only MBC member appointed to the PSM.

He said he had previously refrained from taking on a private sector job as the MBC law had prohibited its board members from employment in a second job.

Others members of the PSM board include Ibrahim Khaleel, ex CEO of private Villa TV, Ikram Abdul Latheef, former official at Villa TV, and Aiminath Shayan, a TV presenter and the wife of a ruling party activist. The ruling-party controlled parliament approved President Abdulla Yameen’s nominees without an interview.

At the time, Manik had defended the new law claiming it would improve the administration of state media.

“I take this as a positive move to further improve the public broadcaster. We were not influenced before and I am very confident that we will not be influenced by the government in the future as well,” he said.

The PSM Act also requires the state to distribute a printed daily newspaper and use social media to disseminate programmes.

In July, PSM launched a new monthly magazine, Maldeeb, and announced plans to establish an English news channel called Maldives and a channel called Majlis on parliamentary affairs.

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