The print media was first established to ensure authorities wide powers to sanction, confiscate and close print outlets. In 1881, the Publications Law was issued, which most Egyptian press observers consider the worst law of publications in the history of the press.
After a short period of openness and more freedom for the print sector in Egypt, a presidential decree was issued on 24 May 1960 to nationalize all newspapers and magazines. They were all submitted to the full management of the state, which chose its editors, and defined the media content. This trend remains to this day with the adoption of a new set of laws in 2018, extending the power of President al-Sisi over the management of print and digital outlets.
Over the years, the print sector lost the little credibility is already had. As in other countries, newspaper readership in Egypt declined over time, from 25% in 2013 to 24% in 2015 to only 16% in 2017. Only 22% of Egyptians are now reading newspapers to get news. By comparison, this is 77% for the TV and 30% for the radio. Only 5% of them are willing to pay to get news from a newspaper.
The print sector is regulated by the National Press Authority, which also appoints the top management of all State-owned newspapers. The State owns the main newspaper distribution channels as well, such as the Al Ahram Establishment.
The print sector is one of the most diverse in terms of media ownership with three dailies directly owned by the State (Al Ahram, Al Akhbar and Al Gomhuria), one by the EMG linked to the General Intelligence (Al Youm Al Sabea), another one by a member of the board of the EMG (Al Watan), and the rest of them owned by wealthy businessmen (Al Shorouk, Al Masry Al Youm, El Fagr ), out of which two have political interests (Al Dostor and Al Bawaba).