Media rights over the FIFA World Cup leads to huge criticism towards Media Net

19 Oct 2022 | 12:04
Voice gallery

The Broadcasting Regulations which had previously provide Maldivian the opportunity to watch the FIFA World Cup completely free has ended.

The Broadcasting Commission, the governing body for broadcasters and re-broadcasters, abruptly changed the rules on September 19 and prevented Maldivians from watching the World Cup for "free of cost," just as the Qatar World Cup 2022 was about to begin.

Under the regulation, broadcasters with 100 per cent local stake will be allowed to re-broadcast in the Maldives. In compliance with the new regulations the broadcasting rights will provide Media Net. However, Dhiraagu would not be given the opportunity to rebroadcast the matches as Bahrain's Batelco holds majority stakes in the company. Hence, the world cup match has been "monopolised". 

The regulations would prevent Maldivians from watching the World Cup for free unless they pay price set by Media Net. 

However, the commission on September 19 included the opening match of the World Cup and the final match on the list of free of cost. Although the fine rules has been framed, the new rule stipulates an event with less than 12 months to start should not be included in the list that allows Maldivian to watch "free of cost". Therefore, the manner in which the listed event was decided violates the new regulation. 

Currently, PSM is banned from showing the World Cup match for free of Cost under the new regulation. However, if the rules are backtracked Media Net would be forced to provide free rights to PSM. 

Parliament opposes rules that allow medianet to have monopoly!

Opposition VP and Naifaru MP Ahmed Shiyam submitted a resolution to the parliament stating that a regulation for re-broadcasting has been framed so that it can be "monopolized". 

The rebroadcasting provision, which permits MediaNet to monopolize cable TV services, has also drawn criticism from a number of parliamentarians . The new regulation, which permits one business to dominate the whole industry, incensed the members.

Allowing more people to re-broadcast by trying to improve the quality of public service and create competitors, I urge you not to play the role of evil doer and monopolize this service.

said Tulusdhoo MP Mohamed Naseem

Naseem said the Broadcasting Commission had informed that the license given to Dhiraagu for broadcasting has not been renewed since January. He pointed out that 15,000 people people from around 80 island in the country are using Dhiraagu's cable television services and noted that Dhiraagu's re-broadcasted service has been invested heavily. 

Speaking on the occasion, MP Ahmed Thoriq said that the Broadcasting Commission had framed a regulation for re-broadcasting rules without prior knowledge and the following was realised after the Broadcasting Commission was summoned to Parliament. 

Thoriq highlighted the constitution guarantees citizens the freedom to conduct business and noted that Broadcasting Act does not prohibit rebroadcasting rights. However, He alleged the current restrictions established by the Broadcasting Commission were unfairly constructed to favour a specific group of people.

A right given by the Constitution cannot be restricted by a rule. I find that members of the Broadcasting Commission must been summoned to the ACC to whether anyone or people have influenced their decision to create the rules that help people gain undue advantage.

said Mahibadhoo MP Ahmed Thoriq

Hulhudhoo MP Ilyas Labeeb also criticised the rule allowing MediaNet to monopolize cable TV services.

He stated that making things easier for more people to be re-broadcast would provide affordable services to citizens in a competitive environment. He pointed out that it is not the right of the Broadcasting Commission to dilute what the law does not prohibit and only a few individuals are benefiting from the rule.

"SME's also benefit from the fact that a large number of people have a license to re-broadcast, but now that this rule has been amended, it will benefit one person and it will not be possible for others to block its path."

said Hulhudhoo MP Ilyas Labeeb

Ihavandhoo MP Mohamed Shifau has also expressed his displeasure over the re-broadcasting regulations framed by the Broadcasting Commission to benefit MediaNet. He said that while a rule has been framed to give 100 per cent right or power to a local company, the permission for re-broadcasting has not been curtailed due to confusion in parliament.

He further explained that the law is written in a certain way that cannot be changed and he further noted that doing so would cause serious damage to those who are serving in the field. 

"We have 15,000 customers using Dhiraagu TV alone. These are customers in many isolated islands in the country. Before the networks coming down from Dhiraagu were built in the islands, the residents used to watch beautiful drama in the islands. I used to watch a good football match as well. I'm not always talking about improving dhiraagu by pushing. But when competitors are able to enter the market, the network is also good and the price is also improving." 

said Ihavandhoo MP Mohamed Shifau

In a nutshell, the MP's emphasized that the Broadcasting Commission's decision to grant Media Net a monopoly status on cable TV services was taken using legal authority that was not authorized by the law. It's also crucial to keep in mind that this will lessen the likelihood of developing a competitive environment in the industry.

Most of the lawmakers who spoke against the resolution agreed that it would be a way of controlling prices for a particular group of people, which would not benefit the people at all.