Makram Mohamed Ahmed (Photo: Al Ahram)
Head of Egypt's Supreme Council for Media Regulation, veteran journalist Makram Mohamed Ahmed told reporters on Monday that he is against the reinstatement of the post of minister of information.
"The post of minister of information is part of the executive authority and it is not good for the media to become part of an official authority in any way," said Makram, arguing that "the reinstatement of the post can negatively affect media independence in Egypt.
"The media shouldn't be subject to an official authority in the form of a ministry of information, and in the majority of world countries the media is governed by a code of ethics and laws, and not by an official authority, and I see that if taken, this step could affect media independence and freedom in Egypt," said Ahmed.
He also argued that the Supreme Council for Media Regulation is currently playing effective roles in line with the constitution. "The council, which was created by the constitution, has proven to be highly effective, and so there is no need for the post of the minister of information to be back," said Ahmed.
Ahmed's comments come in response to calls voiced by a number of MPs, such as Osama Heikal, head of parliament's Media Committee, and Taher Abu Zeid, who agreed that the post should be back to stand up to hostile media campaigns launched by Muslim Brotherhood-linked TV channels broadcasting from Turkey, Qatar and London. Deputy Parliament Speaker Suleiman Wahdan said the return of the post has become a necessity, not only to mobilise the country's media against foreign attacks, but also to draw a future roadmap for the Egyptian media.
Parliament Spokesperson Salah Hassaballah said in a TV interview that together with a large number of MPs he is in favour of reinstating the post of the minister of information to govern and discipline the performance of the media in Egypt. "This post has become a necessity, especially after the Supreme Council for Media Regulation and other media councils have proven a failure in the face of hostile attacks," said Hassaballah.
Ahmed's remarks come ahead of a meeting scheduled for Tuesday to investigate complaints filed by MPs against a number of newspapers and TV programmes.