Problems on hold
Last week, I reviewed the work of the parliamentary commission assigned with revising the draft law for regulating the press and media. This week, I resume my review of a selection of the articles of the law, hoping it works to place the foundation for press and media practice that would well serve Egypt.
· Article 19: Newspapers, media vehicles, or websites are banned from disseminating or broadcasting false news or material that calls for or instigates breaching the law, or violence and hatred, or encompasses discrimination among citizens, or calls for racism or fanaticism, or involves dishonouring individuals or insulting and libelling them, or contempt of heavenly religions or religious beliefs.
· Article 26: Journalists or media persons are banned from endeavouring to bring in advertisements or to collect any sums of money or benefits through publishing advertisements or broadcasting them in any way, or to sign their names on material of an advertising nature, or to participate in image or voice in commercial paid advertisements. Violators are questioned through disciplinary action…
· Article 27: Journalistic or media organisations or websites shall be committed to totally separate and distinguish between editorial and advertising content.
· Article 29: There may be no police custody in crimes of publishing or publication, except in case of crimes concerned with instigating violence and discrimination among citizens, or dishonouring individuals.
· Article 31: The office or home of a journalist or media person may not be searched on account of a press or media publishing crime, except in presence of a member of the public prosecution.
· Article 35: No individual, family, or legal person may own a daily paper and at the same time own stock in another daily paper. Ownership of a stake that would grant the right of management of more than one daily paper is not allowed; this also applies to electronic papers. Non-Egyptian natural or legal persons may not own stakes that would grant them the right of management…
· Article 66: Print, audio, visual, or electronic media vehicles may not broadcast their content on smart phones or similar devices except upon approval of the Supreme Council for Regulating the Media…
· Article 67: The Supreme Council for Regulating the Media is an independent organisation of legal personality. It is headquartered in Cairo governorate, and regulates the affairs of audio, visual, and digital media, and print and digital press. The Council enjoys technical, financial, and administrative independence in performing its competencies, and there may be no interference in its affairs.
· Article 68: The Supreme Council aims at securing and defending the freedom of the press and media within the framework of free competition, especially in what follows:
– Defending citizens’ right to free, impartial media and press with a high level of professionalism according to international quality standards and Egyptian cultural identity.
– Securing the independence of journalistic and media organisations, their impartiality, pluralism and diversity.
– Securing the commitment of media and press vehicles and organisations to the standards, basics, and ethics of the profession.
– Securing the commitment of media and press vehicles and organisations to national security requirements.
– Securing the commitment of media and press vehicles and organisations to intellectual and literary property rights.
– Working to ensure that press and media service reaches every region of the republic fairly.
– Ensuring that economic activity in the field of the press and media does not ban free competition, restrict it, or harm it.
– Securing the integrity of sources of funding media and press organisations.
– Implementing environmental and technical standards in the field of broadcasting audio, visual, and digital media; and print and digital journalism, and others.
– Banning monopolistic practices in the field of the press and media.
– Protecting intellectual property rights in the field of the press and media.
· Article 90: Decisions by the Supreme Council for Regulating the Media, and its bylaws are enforceable and binding for all press organisations, national press organisations, media organisations, and public media organisations, media vehicles and public media vehicles … all State apparatuses shall be committed to aiding the Supreme Council in performing its tasks, facilitating the performance of its competencies, and furnishing it with the data or information it requires relevant to these competencies. This shall be done without breaching national security requirements.
That was a reading of the draft law for the press and media, which should be accompanied by two laws: the law for the National Press Authority concerned with the management of State-owned press organisations; and the law for the National Media Authority concerned with the management of State-owned media organisations.
15 July 2018