“Regulators Without Regulations”
In December 2016, the Egyptian legislators adopted a law to create three media regulators by a two-thirds majority of the Parliament. The plan was to pass another bill to regulate media practice within a month after the formation of these new regulatory bodies.
In April 2017, the three bodies were formed: the Supreme Council for Media Regulation (SCMR), the National Press Authority (NPA) and the National Media Authority (NMA), and they have been acting as de facto media regulators, all while the media regulation law was waiting on a parliamentary shelf.
Supreme Council for Media Regulation (SCMR)
By virtue of the 2014 Constitution, the council is responsible for protecting society, the audience and press practice. Its original purpose it to regulate the operations of privately owned media outlets and broadcasters. It was created in 2017 to devise and implement the media strategy for the Egyptian state. It is the most powerful of the regulating bodies and his powers are listed under Law 180/2018.
In 2018, the SCMR has been granted far-reaching powers that, combined with draconian rules governing media practices contained within the law, allow authorities to further censor the press and restrict journalists’ work. For example, the SCMR, not the prosecutor general, can issue censorship directives, while allowing the relevant party to appeal against such an order before the Court of Administrative Justice. As such, Mohamed Sayed Saleh, editor in chief of the daily Al-Masry Al-Youm was removed based on a complaint by the National Electoral Commission to the Supreme Council for Media Regulation, against the newspaper. Moreover, any person or entity that wishes to create a website need to obtain a license from the SCMR, even if their content does not fall within the purview of press or media activity (art. 6).
The National Press Authority (NPA) and the National Media Authority (NMA) answer to the SCMR. The 2018 laws allow the NMA and NPA to directly interfere, manage and direct all of the Egyptian media outlets.
National Press Authority (NPA)
By virtue of the 2014 Constitution, the NPA is an independent institution responsible for managing and developing state-owned press institutions and their assets, «as well as ensure their modernisation, independence, neutrality and their adherence to good professional, administrative and economic standards » (art.212). The NPA leadership is selected by the President (Law 179/2018). Art 7 reads that « NPA's board will include representatives of the State Council, the Ministry of Finance, national press organisations, and two public figures with proven experience in journalism ».
National Media Authority (NMA)
By virtue of the 2014 Constitution, the Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU) established in 1960 has become the National Media Authority. Defined as an independent organisation, it is responsible for managing and developing state-owned visual, audio and digital media outlets and their assets, as well as ensure their development, independence, neutrality and their adherence to good professional, administrative and economic standards (art. 213 of Law 178/2018). The President directly appoints one third of the members of the NMA (art. 7) and the executive power, through the President of the Republic, directly controls the formation of a national media body, a matter which challenges its independence.
General Authority for Investment (GAFI)
The General Authority for Investment is the main governmental authority to regulate investments in Egypt. It is an affiliate of the Ministry of Investment (MOI) and was founded in 1970. Chaired by the Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Professor Sahar Nasr, it is headed by Prof. Mohsen Adel who was named by the Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli in July 2018. It regulates the Media Public Free Zone established by the resolution of The Prime Minister No. 411 /2000. All private media companies are required to register with the GAFI to be able to operate in the country.
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