Egypt: Freedom-Undermining Articles Removed From Media Regulation Bills - MP

Friday 08 June 2018 - 11:43 AM

Osama Heikal, head of the Culture and Media Committee at the House of Representatives, stressed on Thursday that all freedom-undermining articles were removed from the bill aiming at regulating the work of the media and the press.

After lengthy discussions, the committee decided to divide the media and press regulation bill into three ones, Heikal said, adding that the parliament is expected to start debates on the three bills as of Sunday.

Under the Constitution, three institutions for media and press were formed one year ago; The Supreme Council for Media Regulation, the National Press Authority and the National Media Authority, Heikal told the reporters.

After examining experiments of many world countries in regulating the media and press, we found that the French model is the closet to us, he said.

The Audiovisual Media Authority is the body responsible for regulating media in France. It consists of seven members while in Egypt there are 39 members in the three authorities, he said.

After debates, members of the committee agreed to cut down the number of members in each authority from 13 to nine, including the president of the authority, he added.

Under the three bills, the posts of editor-in-chief and board chairman will be separated in national press institutions, he added.

The head of the Culture and Media Committee of the parliament said the committee held 39 meetings to discuss the media and press regulation bill that was submitted by the government.

He added that the idea of dividing the bill intro three ones was much welcomed by the government.

While examining the bills, the committee took the opinions of many bodies, including the Syndicate of Press, the National Media Authority, the National Press Authority, the Egyptian Competition Authority, the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority and the Media Industry Chamber.

Some articles were added to the government-drafted law to regulate online media as the Supreme Council for Media Regulation was given the right to grant licenses to online media websites, he said.

About the formation of the general assembly of national press institutions, he said the committee agreed that members of the general assembly should mostly be chosen from outside the national institutions to end disarray as regards endorsing the institutions' annual budgets.

All media institutions will be obligated to publish their budgets and clarify the nature and size of funds they receive to guarantee transparency.

Each general assembly will include 17 members for a three-year term. It will include the head of the National Press Authority, three members of the authority and seven experts in economy, law, finance and auditing in addition to six members from the national institution itself.

As for the board of the national press institutions, he said it will include 13 members for a three-year term. The board will include the head of the national institution, six elected members from the institution and six members from outside the institution to be selected by the National Press Authority.

At the end, Heikal stressed that no national press institution, including the Middle East News Agency, will be excluded from the separation between the posts of the board chairman and editor-in-chief because the funds of all these institutions are public and so there should be a separation between the administration and the editing posts.


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