MPs urge to repeal amendment to rebroadcasting regulation

Naifaru MP Ahmed Shiyam presents his resolution on most recent amendment to rebroadcasting regulation to the parliament on October 18, 2022. (Photo/People's Majlis)

Parliamentarians, on Tuesday, called to repeal the most recent amendment brought to the Regulation on Rebroadcasting which disallows companies with foreign shares to rebroadcast in the Maldives.

Naifaru MP Ahmed Shiyam submitted a resolution to the Parliament on Tuesday, alleging that Maldives Broadcasting Commission (BroadCom) brought the most recent amendment to the rebroadcasting regulation by misusing their authority, to provide benefit for a certain party.

Tuesday’s parliamentary sitting saw parliamentarians debate on this resolution.

All parliamentarians who debated in this regard, had urged to repeal the most recent amendment to the rebroadcasting regulation.

The main concern raised by all parliamentarians, in their debate, was local telecom operator, Dhiraagu, being disqualified to provide cable TV services in the Maldives, as a result of the new amendment.

The latest amendment to the rebroadcasting regulation states that permit to rebroadcast in the Maldives will only be granted to companies with 100 percent local shares.

Dhiraagu is not a 100 percent local company. The majority shareholder of the telecom company is Bahrain’s BATELCO.

All parliamentarians who debated on MP Shiyam’s resolution had expressed negative sentiments regarding the most recent amendment to the Rebroadcasting Regulation.

In this regard, Thulusdhoo MP Ibrahim Naseem said that broadcasting and rebroadcasting were two different things.

Thulusdhoo MP Ibrahim Naseem. (Photo/People's Majlis)

He detailed that broadcasters were content creators, whilst rebroadcasters were people who buy the content from broadcasters, to facilitate access to the content for the public.

“I do not believe rebroadcasting can be practiced in a small island nation like the Maldives, easily, at a small price,” he added.

He said that service of rebroadcasting will only improve, once chances are given for parties to pursue it.

MP Naseem described the most recent amendment to the rebroadcasting regulation as an opportunity to monopolize cable TV service.

“I urge BroadCom to not play the role of a cruel stepfather, by formulating questionable regulations outside the constrains of law, to monopolize this service, and derive the people from the opportunity to view TV as a cheap price,” he had said.

Ihavandhoo MP Mohamed Shifau alleged that the amendment to the rebroadcasting regulation was specifically aimed at Dhiraagu.

“This is making it mandatory to seek the service from a certain party,’ he added.

MP for Ihavandhoo Mohamed Shifau. (Photo/People's Majlis)

He emphasized that it was absolutely unacceptable for the government, or a commission to work on forcefully impeding the business operations of the company.

Velidhoo MP Mohamed Abdulla Shafeeg said that the most recent amendment to the rebroadcasting regulation directly contradicts the purposes of the rebroadcasting regulation.

He added that the recent amendment will revoke Dhiraagu’s right to rebroadcast starting next January, describing the result of it, dangerous, and a loss to many.

Velidhoo MP Mohamed Abdulla Shafeeq. (Photo/People's Majlis)

“BroadCom has misused the powers granted to them under the Broadcasting Act,” he also said.

Hanimaadhoo MP Abdul Ghafoor Moosa said that an increase in rebroadcasters would benefit the people, and provide a lot of easements.

Hanimaadhoo MP Abdul Gafoor Moosa. (Photo/People's Majlis)

Maduvvari MP Adam Shareef said that the amendment to the rebroadcasting regulation was brought in a manner that does not benefit media outlets.

“This amendment needs to be repealed immediately, or altered significantly,” he added.

Maduvvari MP Adam Shareef Umar. (Photo/People's Majlis)

During today’s debate, many parliamentarians strongly criticized BroadCom.