Egypt's state-owned Television and Radio Union — popularly known as Maspero — will be restructured to be part of a national media authority mandated with supervising all forms of government-affiliated media.
According to Minister of Transitional Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Ibrahim Heneidy, a new law is being drafted to bring Maspero under the supervision of one authority. "This goes in line with Article 213 of the new constitution and aims at promoting the competitive capacity of Maspero in a market increasingly dominated by the private sector," Heneidy told parliamentary reporters in a press conference Tuesday.
Heneidy said Article 213 of the 2014 Constitution states that a national media authority be established to take charge of supervising all government-owned audiovisual and digital media outlets, developing their financial assets and reinforcing their independence and impartiality. "As a result, a legislative reform committee is currently in the process of drafting a new law aimed at achieving the philosophy of Article 213 and turning the anticipated national media authority into a reality," said Heneidy.
Heneidy also disclosed that the committee will hold a number of hearing sessions next week to review reforms proposed by Maspero officials, media experts and former information ministers.
"We want the voice of the national media to be more influential and competitive, not necessarily reflecting the state or the government's point of view but giving the people a different background and vision about what is going on inside and outside Egypt," said Heneidy.
Heneidy said Maspero has huge technical and technological capacities that have to be utilised to be more competitive. "We hope the new national media authority will do this job: relieve Maspero of bureaucracy, develop its financial capacities, and help it deliver in-depth coverage from an Egyptian perspective," said Heneidy.
Going hand-in-hand with the above, Heneidy indicated that another committee in charge of preparing new laws on national press organisations is currently reviewing different proposals in this respect. "This goes in line with Article 212 of the new constitution, which states that a national press authority be established to take charge of running the affairs of the country's national press organisations, upgrading their performance, and maximising the economic benefits of their assets," Heneidy said.
Heneidy, however, added: "The issue of drafting a unified law for national press organisations will take some time, not only because a lot of proposals are submitted in this respect but also because other laws dealing with the national print media in one way or another will have to be also redrafted."
A national committee on media and press legislation, including a number of prominent journalists and experts from the Journalists Syndicate, announced it will meet this week to discuss drafting a single law for all media forms.
Heneidy went on to indicate that he met with Khaled Al-Sadr, secretary general of the House of Representatives, to discuss preparations for the new parliament.
"As parliamentary elections are approaching, we discussed the technical preparations that should be in place before parliament convenes," said Heneidy, adding that "MPs will be able for the first time to electronically vote on laws and a new screen will be fitted to show the voting blocs and the progress of parliamentary debates."
Heneidy said several security and logistical measures will be introduced to safeguard the House of Representatives building against terrorist attacks and that new machines were imported to detect explosives. He said MPs will be obliged to leave their cars at the nearby Tahrir Square garage for security reasons.