A ruling party lawmaker has proposed legislation for the creation of a new media regulatory body after dissolving the broadcasting commission and media council.
The introduction of the ‘Maldives Media Commission’ bill has been tabled in the agenda for Tuesday’s sitting of parliament.
MP Jaufar Dawood, who submitted the bill on behalf of the government, refused to disclose any details. “I have nothing to say to the media ahead of the submission of the bill to the parliament floor,” he told the Maldives Independent.
Asked about the purpose of the proposed law, he added: “I am not going to reveal anything about the reasons either.”
According to newspaper Mihaaru, the bill proposes a new seven-member commission to replace the Maldives Broadcasting Commission and the Maldives Media Council.
The members will be appointed by President Abdulla Yameen subject to parliamentary approval.
The MBC and MMC will be dissolved once the bill becomes law. The outgoing senior management of the defunct bodies will oversee the work of the new commission during a 45-day period interim period for the appointment of members.
Yameen will also have the authority to appoint the president and vice president of the commission.
The broadcasting regulator is presently made up of seven members nominated by the president and approved by parliament. The media council is a 15-member body of elected representatives from the public and media community serving as a self-regulatory body for print and online media outlets.
The broadcasting regulator went on to impose hefty fines against the opposition-aligned Raajje TV under the controversial 2016 anti-defamation law, which was also submitted by MP Jaufar Dawood.
The media council was also authorised to take action against print and online outlets but is yet to impose any fines.
The Maldives is now ranked 117 out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders annual press freedom index, down from 112 the previous year.