The broadcasting regulator has slapped a fine of MVR100,000 (US$6,500) on Sangu TV over remarks by an opposition lawmaker in December last year.
MP Mohamed Musthafa used an obscenity and defamed President Abdulla Yameen during a live event when he said the present administration has “introduced nothing but theft to the country”, the Maldives Broadcasting Commission concluded following an inquiry.
Sangu TV was found to have breached the 2016 anti-defamation and freedom of speech law by broadcasting the content. The privately-owned station was ordered to make a formal apology and pay the fine within one month.
Protesting the fine, Ibrahim Waheed ‘Asward,’ the station’s managing director, said the MBC has become “the main source of collecting revenue for the state”.
The widely criticised law requires the fine to be paid before the decision could be appealed.
The MBC previously fined opposition aligned-broadcaster Raajje TV by MVR1.7 million (US$110,000) on three separate occasions, the largest of which (US$65,000) came for a speech deemed defamatory towards the president.
More recently, Villa Television and sister station VFM were fined MVR400,000 (US$26,000).
The penalty came after they aired a speech, also by Musthafa, which the MBC decided contained vulgar language aimed at defaming the president.
Separately, the MBC has launched a probe into an exclusive interview of former President Mohamed Nasheed aired by Raajje TV on February 4, in which the opposition leader had urged the public to revolt after the government refused to execute a Supreme Court order.
According to Raajje TV, the issue was raised by MBC member Zeena Zahir and the station has not yet been told to respond.
Earlier this month, the head of news at pro-government station Channel 13 was appointed as a member of the commission.