Saturday,23 June, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1340, (13 - 19 April 2017)
Saturday,23 June, 2018
Issue 1340, (13 - 19 April 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Regulating the media

President Al-Sisi has issued a long-sought decree creating three new media regulatory bodies, reports Gamal Essam El-Din

Makram Mohamed Ahmed

President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi has issued a long-awaited decree forming three media regulatory bodies: the Higher Council for Media Regulation (HCMR), the National Press Organisation (NPO) and the National Media Organisation (NMO).

Each body is composed of 13 members selected by the president, parliament, Press Syndicate, the Higher Council for Universities, the State Council and a representative from the Ministry of Finance.

Al-Sisi’s decree, issued Tuesday 11 April, states that the heads of the three bodies will be Makram Mohamed Ahmed for the HCMR, Karam Gabr of the NPO and Hussein Zein for the NMO.

The NPO will replace the current Higher Press Council, taking charge of supervising state-owned press organisations. It will be responsible for selecting board chairmen and editors of their affiliated publications.

The NMO will replace the current Radio and Television Union (RTU), with a mandate to oversee state-owned audio-visual media, radio and digital media institutions in a manner that guarantees their independence, professionalism and profitability, according to the constitution.

Karam Gabr

The HCMR will regulate all media outlets, whether audio-visual, digital or print — both public and private — in coordination with the NPO and the NMO.

The HCMR will also take charge of licensing media outlets and drawing up a code of media ethics, with a focus on respecting public morals and national security concerns, by which all media organisations must abide, whether public, private or owned by political parties.

A law on the institutional regulation of the press and the media in Egypt was approved by Egypt’s parliament in December last year.

Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal told MPs at the time that the law was reviewed in full by the State Council.

Abdel-Aal also said that the new law deals with press and media freedoms with regards to Egypt’s 2014 constitution.

“This is why it took a long time to be reviewed by the State Council, to ensure it does not infringe on freedoms or contravene the constitution,” said Abdel-Aal.

Osama Heikal, head of parliament’s Media, Culture and Antiquities Committee, said the 89-article law, prepared by government-affiliated experts in media law, aims to create three regulatory bodies that will oversee all media outlets in Egypt.

Heikal told reporters Tuesday that “after the legislation on the three media bodies was ratified by President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi and their board members named on Tuesday, the committee will begin discussing a second law on media and press conditions.”

“Members of the new three regulatory bodies will be invited to have their say on this general media law,” said Heikal.

Hussein Zein

The formation of the three media bodies shows that veteran journalists in Egypt’s national press organisations will have the upper hand. While HCMR will be headed by Mohamed Ahmed, a veteran journalist with the daily Al-Ahram and a former head of the Press Syndicate, the NPO will be chaired by Karam Gabr, a former editor-in-chief of the national Rose El-Youssef press organisation. Gabr was a big supporter of the former regime of Hosni Mubarak and a fiery critic of the so-called Arab Spring revolutions.

The NPO will also include national press journalists, including Mohamed Abdel-Hadi, chief editor of Al-Ahram, Diaa Rashwan, head of Al-Ahram’s Centre for Political and Strategic Studies and a former head of the Press Syndicate, Alaa Thabet, chief editor of Al-Ahram Al-Masaai, and Abdel-Qader Shoeib, a former board member of the state-owned Dar Al-Hilal Press Organisation.

The NPO has only independent journalist Charles Al-Hilw, a reporter with the daily Al-Masry Al-Youm.

Abdel-Aal told MPs on Monday that he has high hopes that the three new media regulatory bodies will make sure that the media observes the country’s supreme national interests. “I hope there will be much media discipline in the coming period in which we are facing a tough battle against terrorism,” said Abdel-Aal.

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