The Egyptian Parliament has recently approved the final law for regulating Press and Media.
The Parliament’s response to the demands of the Journalists Syndicate on amendments to the law was essential in concluding the final law, as some voices within the Journalists Syndicate, argued against a number of points. The five members who rejected the law, Gamal Abdel Rahim, Mohamed Kharja, Mohamed Saad Abd alhafiz, Amr Badr and Mahmoud Kamel have called for a protest to reject the law, yethave failed in holding a stand following the announcement of the Parliament’s agreement to the remarks of the State Council, and the Syndicate of Journalists on the law.
Over the days prior to the Parliament’s approval of the law, more than a meeting was held between the head of the Journalists Syndicate and a number of members of the Parliament, including the Minister of House Affairs, Adviser Omar Marwan, Speaker of Parliament Dr. Ali Abdel-Al, and Chairman of the Parliamentary Information Committee, Usama Heikal, to discuss the comments and proposals of the Journalists Syndicate on the law governing the press and the media, pursuant to article 77 of the constitution, which requires taking the opinion of professional associations in the draft laws related thereto, as well as the recommendation of the Journalists Syndicate at its last meeting to open dialogue with the state to reach a consensus vision on some of the articles in dispute.
Abdulmohsen Salama, head of the Journalists Syndicate, praised the positive spirit thatprevailed in those meetings, reflecting the desire to deepen the understanding between the Syndicate and Parliament, on the remarks made by the Journalists Syndicate on some articles of the law, pointing out that all these commentswere discussed at full length.
On the other hand, President of the Parliament during those meetings, expressed his appreciation to the Journalists Syndicate Council for their role in enhancing the discussions towards developing the new press and media law, while he stressed the keenness of the House of Representatives in supporting the freedom of the press and media, due to its importance in building and developing the society and its stability.
It is to be noted, that a delegation from the Journalists Syndicate headed by Abdul Mohsin Salama, met last Saturday with advisor Omar Marwan, Minister of Legal Affairs and House of Representatives to discuss the comments and proposals on the law before its final approval by the House of Representatives. Following the meeting, the House of Representatives approved in its plenary session, the laws governing the press and the media.
First: Special the Supreme Council for Media Regulation
- “Article 4”:
Adding a new article regarding the transitional provision to maintain tasks and duties of the current Council until the formation of a new Council, which reads as follows: The Supreme Council, in its current composition, continues to discharge its functions and its terms of reference, until the issuance of a decision to form a new Council in accordance with the provisions of the law annexed.
- “Article 12”:
Adding the words “where required” to the article to read as follows: For the journalist or the media personal inorder to perform his work the right to attend conferences, meetings and public meetings, meetings with citizens, taking photographs in places not prohibited for filming, and all this after obtaining the necessary permits where required.
- “Article 16”:
To replace the word “sixty” with the word “thirty” in the article regarding the time limit given to the journalist before being fired. To read: It is not permissible to fire a journalist or the media personal from his work until after investigation, notifying the Syndicate on the Justifications for dismissal, allowing thirty days from the date of such notification, during which the syndicate will work on resolving the dispute and if not successful, then the provisions of the Labor Code concerning dismissal of a worker shall apply, while his salary or bonuses may not be suspended during the period of conciliation.
- “Article 25”:
Delete the words “and if found guilty, the value of donations, subsidies or material benefits obtained will be transferred to the Union related Pension fund. To read as follows: without prejudice to the provisions of the Penal Code, journalists or media personal are prohibited from accepting donations or subsidies, or special privileges due to or on the occasion of their work from any person or institution, local or foreign, whether directly or indirectly, and the violator will be legally responsible for his actions.
- “Article 26”:
Delete the words “If found guilty, he shall refund the value of the amounts or benefits he received to his press organization or the means of media in which he works”. To read as follows: it is prohibited for a journalist or media personal to seek advertisements, or obtain any amounts or benefits by posting or broadcasting the advertisements in any capacity, or signing his name on an advertising material, or share their image or voice in paid commercials, and the violator will be legally responsible for his actions.
Abolition of remand detention in the law regulating press and Media, in response to the request of the Syndicate of Journalists to read exactly as the text of Article 71 from the Constitution as follows: “No penalty shall be imposed for the deprivation of liberty in offenses committed by way of publishing or publicity, except for offenses related to incitement of violence, discrimination among citizens or patronizing individuals.”
- “Article 43”:
Replacement of (50%) instead of (70%) for the percentage of editors enrolled in the journalists’ Syndicate in each newspaper.
- Article 60:
Add “Cash or other payment method” to read as follows: The application for the establishment or operation of a media office or website, has to be presented to the Supreme Council on the forms set for this purpose, including the data and documents specified, the Board shall respond to the application within a period not exceeding ninety days from the date on which the application is completed, for a fee not exceeding two hundred andfifty thousand pounds for the media office, and fifty thousand pounds for the website, collected in cash or other form of payment.
- Article 61:
Add the words “for payment of the fees referred to in Article (60) of this Law” to read as follows: The license period is five years, and may be renewed at the request of the licensee to the Supreme Council six months before its expiry, in accordance with the provisions set forth in this Law, and in exchange for the payment of the fees referred to in Article (60) of this Law.
- Article 63:
Add a new paragraph to the article as follows: It is not permissible to rent broadcast space within the licensed media to others, except with a declaration issued by the Supreme Council and after the approval of the concerned competent authorities.
- Article 67:
Replace the text of the second and third paragraphs of the article to read as follows: the Supreme Council must approve the license, to conduct the activity of providing electronic advertising services, or bring ads from the Egyptian market; the applicant must have a tax card. The Council shall notify the Egyptian Tax Authority of the names and the headquarters of those authorized to do so. The licensee shall notify the Egyptian Tax Authority, on advertisements made through any means of advertising, provided for in paragraph 1 of this article, as well as the collection of stamp duty owed by the owner of the Declaration of natural persons, and supply them to the competent tax office, all of this in accordance with the rules and procedures specified by the executive regulations of thelaw.
- Article 70:
The addition of a clause in the deficit of item (2) to read as follows: Provided that the General Authority for Investment shall comply with the registration of companies with Egyptian or foreign capital referred to by obtaining the approval of the security and competentauthorities.
- Article 72:
The addition of the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) to the Supreme Council when obtaining the licensing of encrypted space and digital platforms to read as follows: The creation of space and digital on the territory of the Arab Republic of Egypt requires the authorization of the Supreme Council alone without any other, the license shall be issued in this case after the approval of the NTRA, and to grant this license companies must be owned by the state.
- Article 87:
Replace the text of item (4) with the following: Grants, giveaways and donations may be accepted by the Council with the approval of two-thirds of its members, in accordance with the rules established by law, subject to the verification of non-conflict of interest, and after review with security authorities concerned.
- “Article 94”:
Replace the text of the article with the following text: The Supreme Council shall establish a list of sanctions, administrative and financial measures against press organizations, nationalpress institutions, media institutions and public media institutions, in case of contravention of the provisions of this Law, and the procedures for making complaints thereof. These regulations are an integral part of the licenses, or issued approvals or other actions, procedures between the Supreme Council and those bodies. These regulations may include the following:
- A)Compelling the institution to remove the causes of a violation within a specified period or remove it at its expense.
- B)Signing the financial sanctions stipulated in case of non-compliance with the terms of the license.
- C) Prevent the publication or broadcast of the media material for a fixed period or permanently.
In all cases, No such sanctions or measures may be signed, except in the case of violation by any press or media organization of professional rules or standards or written conventions (codes) and after the necessary examination of the Supreme Council and the signature of the penalty by reasoned decision.
The competent union shall be notified to take the necessary action in the offenses committed by one of its members, on the occasion of the Council’s signing one of the sanctions against one of the parties subject to the Supreme Council, the union concerned shall take disciplinary measures against the person responsible for the violation in accordance with its law.
Those concerned may appeal against such sanctions or measures before the Administrative Court, the appeal shall not be accepted until the complaint has been previously submitted to the Supreme Council.
- Article 96:
Replace the words “constitute a crime” with “or if the content evaluation committee has violated a press or media organization’s violation of professional norms and codes.” contained in the article’s inability to read as follows: Without prejudice to the competence of the Public Prosecution, to the Supreme Council spontaneously, or on the basis of a complaint submitted to him, to institute legal proceedings for any violation of the provisions of this law constitutes a crime.
- “Article 110”:
Article (110) an innovative new material isadded to the end of the law prohibits the import of broadcast devices, through the National Media Authority, or the Egyptian Company for Media Production City or the company operating in this field and state-owned, and the penalty prescribed for the violation is as follows: anyone who has imported Satellite broadcasters shall be punished by imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or the Internet ” including hardware ((SNG و (LIVE VIEW) non through the National Media Authority, or the Egyptian Media Production City or the company operating in this field and owned by the state. In all cases, the court shall confiscate devices and instruments, despite the danger of importing portable transmitters, viasatellite or the international information network “Internet” in contravention of the provisions of the draft law, the draft came out of a punitive text dealing with this situation, and the proposed text thus avoids this deficiency.
Second: The amendments to the draft law of the National Press Authority
- 18. “Article 5”:
Replace the text of the two items (17, 23) with the following: Adoption of the decisions of the boards of directors of the national press institutions to extend the age for journalists, administrators and workers if the need to do so.
- “Article 16”:
Replace the text of the article with the following text: The Chairman and members of the Commission shall not be allowed to carry out any act contrary to the independence of the Commission, in particular, they are forbidden to accept presents or gifts, and they are also prohibited from conducting any consultancy work by exchange for or without.
- “Article 23”:
Add the competent authority to appoint the Secretary General and determine his financial treatment to the article to read as follows: The appointment of the Secretary General of the Authority and the determination of its financial treatment shall be decided by the Commission, and shall be responsible to them for the work of the Authority technically, administratively and financially.
- “Article 25”:
Replace the text of items (6) to read as follows: 1% of the annual revenues of national press organizations is dedicated to supporting national press institutions that the Commission determines its need for support.
- “Article 39”:
Add the word “press” after the word experiences received with the third item to read as follows: Six members selected by the Chairman of the Board of Directors with financial, economic, accounting and legal expertise.
Third: Special amendments draft law of the National Media Authority:
- (Article III)
Adding a new material to the materials of the issue No. (Article III) includes transitional provision to continue thecurrent work of the Governing Council, until the formation of the new commission, which reads as follows: The Board of Directors continue, in itscurrent form, in discharging its functions and specializations, until a decision is issued to form the new body in accordance with the provisions of the accompanying law.
- “Article 6”:
Replace thetext of item (11) with the following: The exclusive right to broadcast or re-broadcast sports tournaments in the Arab Republic of Egypt, production and photography, and have her own right to allow others to do so against a rateagreed upon, provided that it shall not be less than 10% of the consideration of the broadcasting right, in all cases, this right may only be granted to Egyptian state-owned companies.
- “Article 22”:
Add the competent authority to appoint the Secretary-General, and determine its financial treatment to read as follows: The appointment of the Secretary General of the Authority and the determination of its financial treatment shall be decided by the Commission, and shall be responsible to them for the work of the Authority technically, administratively and financially
Following the approval of the law, Abdelmohsen Salama thanked President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi for supporting the Press and Media freedoms granted, announcing his full appreciation of the House of Representatives headed by Dr. Ali Abdelal, and the Committee of culture and Information, chaired by Mr. Usama Heikal, to respond to most of the Syndicate’s suggestions and observations on press and media regulation laws, especially in relation to contentious material, which was unanimously set by the Journalists Syndicate in its successive meetings to discuss the law, which were related to freedoms,and the need to abide by constitutional provisions, especially Article 71, and not to expand the restrictions on the freedom of press, as well as those relating to national press institutions, and press representation in boards of directors and public associations.
Salama noted the efforts made by the members of the Council during the last phase, and commitment to a meaningful and rational dialogue language, away from spasm and emotion he praised the role of colleagues who participated in the dialogue sessions, from the Bureau with all concerned parties, which contributed to finding the ground to reach those achievements. He called on Journalists’ representative to continue dialogue between the union and the parliament, with regard to the issuance of the executive regulations of those laws to address any emerging remarks, and taking into account the proposals of the union in this regard, within the framework of the partnership between the various state institutions under the leadership of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
He commended the efforts made by various parties,, the atmosphere of peaceful democratic dialogue that prevailed in the discussions, and ultimately led to the exit of the law in a way that gets the acceptance and satisfaction of journalists and media professionals, and contribute to a comprehensive renaissance in other national press institutions.
The National Press and Media Commission also praised Karam Jabr’s presidency to the Culture and Information Committee of the Parliament, which throughout the past period has responded to all its demands, the most important of which is the creation of a balance in the composition of the boards of directors of newspapers and public associations, and end of service indemnity for all employees of the national press organizations provided for in the Journalists Syndicate Law, the separation of administration and liberalization and the implementation of the rules of transparency, accountability.