The major daily newspaper in Maldives is Haveeru (North Side) in Male with a circulation of 2,500. Aafathis, another daily in Dhivehi and English, has a circulation of 300. Maldives also has a number of weekly and monthly publications as well as several news agencies and publishers.
Censorship exists in Maldives although on a smaller scale than before President Gayoom took office in 1978. Nevertheless, open dissent against the government is not tolerated. For example, in early 1990 the Consultative Council discussed freedom of speech in the press. But when publications critical of the government appeared in the spring of 1990, all publications that lacked government sanction were banned. Also, leading writers and publishers have been arrested.
Hindi-language films, newspapers, and magazines from India are popular. For eleven hours each day, the government radio station Voice of Maldives, established in 1962, broadcasts to the entire country in Dhivehi and English. Maldivians in 1990 had 27,848 radio receivers to pick up such broadcasts. In 1978 government-run Television Maldives was established. During the week, its one channel broadcasts for five hours a day, with an extended weekend service. However, it can only be received (by the 6,591 Maldivians with television sets in 1992) within a thirty-kilometer radius of Male. Maldives also receives broadcasts by the British Broadcasting Corporation, Radio Australia, and Radio Beijing.
Given the censorship that exists, the media play only a limited role in promoting greater democracy. A major question facing Maldives is the way in which democracy will be defined in view of the contrast between a South Asian kinship system and its egalitarian Western-style parliamentary elections.
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