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Airtime regulation opens for comment in Maldives

TV stations could lose their licence if they break the rules.



A regulation on providing airtime to presidential candidates was Wednesday opened for public comment by the Maldives Broadcasting Commission.

The MBC announced that broadcasters are required to give equal airtime to all candidates and political parties say measures will be taken against stations that break this rule.

Broadcasters must send a programme schedule – with details of free and sold airtime – to the MBC. Any content that is not mentioned in the schedule cannot be aired.

Any station investigated by the watchdog will be given a day to respond to the complaint.

The measures that can be taken are: issuing formal advice, issuing a public warning, ordering the removal of content from the programme schedule and going to court to cancel the broadcasting license.

Electoral laws were amended earlier this month to mandate all broadcasters to give equal time to candidates and ban the sale of more airtime to a particular candidate.

The state-funded Public Service Media declared that a policy on giving airtime to candidates would be published within ten days. It will stipulate ways on giving equal airtime in addition to details on the sale of airtime, deputy managing director Mohamed Ikram said.

Raajje TV, a private station, has also promised equal airtime to candidates. It said it valued a policy of giving equal time to diverse political opinions to encourage freedom of expression.