The Maldives Civil Court has ruled that the assets and budget of the state-owned Maldives National Broadcasting Corporation (MNBC) be transferred to a new autonomous entity, the Maldives Broadcasting Corporation.

At the end of the 20 day transition period (starting 16 May), MNBC journalists and other employees will become staff of the MBC, which has been designated a public service broadcaster under state law.

The MBC was created by an act of parliament in April 2010 and passed into law by President Mohammad Nasheed. It was designated as a public service broadcaster to be overseen by a nine-member board appointed by parliament. However the assets held at that time by MNBC were not, as expected, handed over to the new body.

"We hope that the stalemate over the disposition of broadcasting assets in the Maldives will be resolved with the Civil Court having given its ruling," said Jacqueline Park, Asia-Pacific Director, International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).

"The IFJ has consistently argued the case for public service journalism which is independent of state control and insulated from a dependence on advertising revenue which is known to often impair editorial independence," Ms Park continued.

"The initiative to set up the MBC as a public service broadcaster is one that we have watched with great interest, and we hope that with the recent judicial ruling the MBC will be able to begin functioning in a manner that is true to its mandate."