Senior MP says Egyptian parliament likely to pass media bill before end of year

Ahram Online , Thursday 13 Oct 2016

File Photo: Egyptian parliament (Reuters)

Egypt's parliament will most likely endorse a draft bill regulating media operations or at least discuss it before the end of year, senior MP Osama Heikal said.

Veteran journalists say the law, jointly drafted by the government and the press syndicate, is much-needed to keep media "chaos" at bay by guaranteeing oversight and legal accountability while preserving basic rights and freedoms.

Many press and media figures accuse the government of intentionally stalling the bill and imposing amendments underminig rights granted to journalists and media personnel in earlier versions of the draft.

"We are now trying to solve problems of the bill after the government has stalled it twice," Heikal, head of the parliament's media committee, said on a local television channel on Wednesday.

The parliament will endorse the legislation or at least start looking at it before the end of year, he added

The law is now being reviewed by the State Council, a high-level judicial body that gives legal advice to the government on draft laws.

Completed in August 2015 after months in the making, the unified law was drawn up by a 50-member committee of press leaders and law professors.

The bill, which the government has said is comprised of 230 articles, establishes a higher media council and two separate national authorities governing public and private media organisations.

It includes provisions guaranteeing press independence and others banning monopolies on TV channels and newspapers, setting a maximum share of 10 percent for individuals.

The law imposes fines for violations committed by news organisations, and subjects both private and public media to legal governance.

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