A private TV station that aired colourful language about the president faces having to say sorry, after the civil court on Sunday refused to overrule the broadcasting watchdog’s order for an apology.
Sangu TV was fined MVR100,000 (US$6,500) for broadcasting remarks about President Abdulla Yameen by opposition MP Mohamed Musthafa last December. It was also ordered to air a formal apology “without any excuses” during the 8pm – 10pm slot on a date before April 8.
But Ibrahim Waheed ‘Asward’, Sangu TV’s managing director, went on air hours before the deadline day and denied the word used by the MP was obscene. The station would only apologise if the court ordered it to do so, he said.
The station on Sunday said in a tweet that the civil court refused to accept an injunction to delay the on-air apology, as well as refusing to hear its case to overturn the apology order.
Asward told the Maldives Independent that the station had already asked the regulator, the Maldives Broadcasting Commission, to review the matter and consult language experts.
“The matter is not as simple as referring to the dictionary definition,” he said.
The Radheef.mv entry for the word is: “A person who commits incest (zina) with their mother. It is one of the most obscene words used against people in anger. (It is used jokingly and for fun as well).”
“‘Mayaa’ ‘Hoki’ and ‘Choki’ are used when playing out on the streets,” Musthafa tweeted. “‘Taki’” is a word used to say (when) knocking on someone’s head. You are interpreting words like this and trapping people. Humm.”
Asward attacked the MBC during his TV appearance on Saturday night.
“We do not accept the order to apologise for use of the word ——– during the broadcast, saying that it did not fit the socially acceptable language and signs as per the broadcasting code of conduct.”
“The richness and the beauty of the Maldivian language are lost from weak measures such as this which lack linguistic proficiency or awareness of the Maldivian language.”
The word was used in jest, Asward said, especially among people from Kolhumadulu, which is Musthafa’s constituency.
“If we apologise, it will distort the reality of the matter and cause irreparable damage to the Maldivian language, to the station and to myself,” said Asward. “Therefore, we cannot make an apology at this time and can only do so, if and based on how the court rules on the matter.”
Asward said the company decided it would take the case to the highest stage of appeal if needed.
The company is trying to raise funds to pay off the fine since it can only be appealed after it has been paid, he said.