FILE - Prominent writer Makram Mohamed Ahmed - Courtesy of the Saudi Ministry of Media
CAIRO - 2 January 2019: Makram Mohamed Ahmed, head of the Supreme Council for Media Regulation (SCMR), said that the decision to reshape the boards of Egypt's three superior media bodies is set to be issued following the Press Syndicate election.
The powerful media bodies include the SCMR, and both the National Media Authority headed by Hussein Zain, and the National Press Authority headed by Karam Gabr.
The Press Syndicate election is expected to be held in March, journalist and MP Mostafa Bakri said in December.
Under the current laws, the boards of the three media bodies are set to be composed of nine members. Candidates for leading the three bodies are nominated by the Presidency; the Parliament; the Egyptian Competition Authority; the State Council's administrative affairs council; the National Telecom Regulatory Authority; the General Syndicate for Press, Printing, and Advertising Employees; besides the Press Syndicate, Media Syndicate and the Supreme Council of Universities.
Names should be submitted to Egypt's President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi for approval.
How powerful are the three bodies in the new law?
Following considering the comments of the State Council and the Press Syndicate on the controversial media and journalism regulation law, the Parliament gave a final approval to the law earlier in 2018.
Several concerns were raised by a number of the Journalists Syndicate's members regarding the new law. A debate was launched on the ground and on social media between supporters and opponents of the new law.
In a statement, Journalists Syndicate's members listed several points referring to the new law as “standing against the freedom of media and journalists."
Some administrative regulations were among the criticized points in the new law before it was amended, including: reducing the representation of journalists in the board of directors to the minimum and appointing half of the board members from outside the media institution, as well as allowing the National Press Authority to directly manage the newspapers' boards of directors and public associations.
“The new law doesn’t allow the newspapers' boards to make important decisions without getting the authority's permission,” the statement read.
In all situations, it is impermissible to broadcast or rebroadcast from outside the media sites approved by the Supreme Council for Media Regulation. However, it is allowed for a media company or office to broadcast from outside the studio if it has a studio inside the Egyptian Media Production City (EMPC). The media entity will also need a prior permission from the council including the date and place of broadcast.
The Supreme Council will study the request of the media channel to be established or operated within 90 days from request submission. A media channel shall obtain a 5-year license to be operated; the channel shall be able to renew its license following the approval of the Supreme Council.
The Supreme Council is tasked with creating a list of penalties that can be imposed on the journalistic institutions and media corporations that violate the media law.
The NPA is not allowed, according to the law, to act in a way that may affect its independence. It is also impermissible for the authority to accept gifts or grants. However, the NPA will be able to accept donations and grants on legal bases following the approval of two thirds of the authority’s members. In this case, the NPA has to consult with the security authority before accepting the grants.
According to the law, 1 percent of the journalistic institutions' revenues will be used to fund the national journalistic institutions whose need for fund is recognized by the NPA.
The National Media Authority, according to the law, has the right to rebroadcast sport championships taking place in Egypt. The law will solely give the NMA the authority to allow others to rebroadcast these events for a percentage of the broadcast right cost. However, the broadcast right cannot be obtained except through the state-owned national corporations.