Maldives Journalists Association (MJA) expressed concern on Thursday, after an official representing the government-controlled Public Service Media (PSM) was elected president of Maldives Media Council (MMC).
PSM’s Technical Operations Manager Ahmed Mustafa was elected president of MMC on Thursday morning.
In a statement Thursday afternoon, MJA said the move upends the existing system of media self-regulation and opens it to undue influence.
“A representative of the state media serving as the head of an institution which is formed to self-regulate the media upends the existing system of media self-regulation and opens it to undue influence,” said MJA.
MJA said that the state media chairing an institution that self-regulates the media is also completely inconsistent with the best practices in countries that have adopted the system as well as the general aspects of that principle.
MJA said it is concerned the move could lead to the MMC enacting policies that could jeopardize the proper functioning of private media outlets where a large number of journalists are working.
The association said it also feels the move will ultimately affect the state of press freedom in Maldives and journalists.
“The union has always believed and advocated that the media should be regulated through a self-regulatory system without state interference. This union also considers the collapse of the system as a step backwards in the struggle to establish a professional and independent media ecosystem in the Maldives,” said MJA.