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The Long-Awaited Executive Regulations of the Media Law Are Out

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On 16 February 2020, by virtue of Ministerial Decree No. 418 of 2020, the Executive Regulations (the “ER”) of Law No. 180 of 2018 regulating the press, media and the Supreme Council for Media Regulation (the “Law”) were published in the official gazette.

The provisions of the ER mainly reiterate the same provisions of the Law; however, they add some complementary provisions, some of which relate to the authorities and mandate of the Supreme Council for Media Regulation (the “SCMR”). We guide you through the key highlights of the legislation as follows:

The establishment and operation of press outlets

The ER sets, in details, the procedure of establishment of newspapers and news websites. Any person/entity interested to publish a newspaper or operate a newspapers website must notify the SCMR using the relevant form of notification (the “Notification”) which includes specific data related to the name of the newspaper/website and its activities.

The Notification is considered complete if 30 days pass from the date the Notification is submitted without receiving any request to supplement the Notification with additional information. The newspaper/website may then be published/operated and circulated to the public.

Newspapers may not be published or circulated if the Notification is incomplete and/or is not supplemented with the missing information during the above period. The Notification is considered void, which entails that a new Notification be submitted to SCMR.

The publication of newspapers

The ER stipulate that the newspaper must be published regularly and outline when a newspaper is considered irregularly published. Further, newspapers must be published within a certain timeframe from the completion of the Notification. Press outlets risk losing the legal effect of their Notification to the SCMR if the aforementioned conditions are not observed.

The establishment and operation of media outlets

Contrary to press outlets, media outlets do not start undertaking their activities just by depositing a Notification to the SCMR. Any person/entity wishing to establish a media outlet, or a media website must obtain a license (the “License”) from the SCMR in order to undertake their desired activities by submitting a request to the SCMR.

Licenses are granted by the SCMR and may be renewed after submitting a request to this effect.

The operation of media outlets

It must be noted that the media outlet must start broadcasting within a certain time period from the issuance of the License, or exceptionally, they may be granted an extension provided a request is made to the SCMR, which outlines the justification for such extension. In the case of media outlets, the criterion of irregularity can only be determined by the SCMR.

Disclosure obligations on press and media outlets and general restrictions

The ER outline the different disclosure and reporting obligations that must be observed by press and media outlets.

The ER set restrictions in relation to the shareholding of press and media outlets and the subsequent transfer of such shareholding to third parties. The SCMR is notably required to clear any subsequent change in shareholding.

In addition, the ER prohibit undertaking any recordings, photographs, or interviews in public places for the purpose of broadcasting them through a media outlet without obtaining the prior approval of the SCMR.

Regulation of labor

The ER provide a template that must be followed for any employment contract to be concluded between the press or media outlet and their employees. Any matters not covered by the template, is covered by the Egyptian Labor Law.

Market reaction

The ER attempt to provide more clarity on the SCMR’s role, which is much needed. However, the target audience of the ER seems to be silent since its issuance, which was not the case at the time of issuance of the Law. Although dated, the reception of the Law must be noted as it had garnered quite a negative response, notably from AFTE.