Egypt issues media coverage rules for parliamentary elections

Ahram Online , Tuesday 22 Sep 2015

The committee issued guidelines and criteria to be followed by the media while covering the 2015 parliamentary elections

parliment elections
A woman casting her vote during the parliamentary run-off elections in Cairo December 5, 2011 (Photo: Reuters)

The committee responsible for observing and monitoring media coverage of Egypt’s upcoming parliamentary elections has issued the criteria and standards to be followed by media and advertising agencies in their coverage.

The committee was formed by the High Elections Committee (HEC) in August to document and evaluate media coverage of the elections, and is responsible for receiving complaints and submitting its recommendations to the HEC.

The committee has ordered the media to cover the elections with neutrality and transparency and avoid publishing material that could be seen as positive or negative propaganda towards a certain candidate, such as songs and films.

The committee also said that the media should completely separate between reporting official news about a parliamentary candidate and news that might be considered a campaign ad for that candidate.

The media also have to ensure balanced and accurate coverage of the candidates’ campaigns to provide voters with a complete picture so as to give them the ability to choose their representatives wisely.

Journalists and media presenters who are running in the elections are prohibited from presenting any TV or radio shows during the campaigning period designated by the Supreme Committee for Election Campaigns.

Television and radio stations are also obliged to provide equal broadcast time to parties and individual candidates to announce their ideas and campaign programmes.

The committee also said that media coverage should not be used as a means of prejudicing or violating candidates’ private lives in a direct or indirect way, and that it is not allowed to cover what would "shake the confidence of voters in the electoral process" or "disrupt national unity".

The committee also banned the use of religious slogans or discrimination based on gender or race.

Other restrictions include a ban on using governmental buildings, institutions or transportation in campaigning, along with houses of worship, schools and universities.

The committee also prohibited any paid advertisement in newscasts or news reports on candidates, adding that the broadcast of any opinion polls on the elections is forbidden unless enough information about the party that conducted the poll is provided, including its funding and the method it used to conduct the poll.

A total of 5,941 individuals have applied to run in the elections and 14 electoral coalitions are fielding candidates aiming to run in the lists.

The first round of the long-delayed parliamentary elections will be held on 17 to 28 October across the following 14 governorates: Giza, Fayoum, Beni Suef, Minya, Assiut, Sohag, Qena, Luxor, Aswan, New Valley, Red Sea, Beheira, Alexandria and Marsa Matruh.

Campaigning for this first stage is scheduled for 4 to 15 October.

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