The Press and Media Regulation Law was issued in 2018. Two years later, it was followed by its executive regulation. The law no. 180/2018 expands the definition of media means. It also includes many rules related to the operation of digital media means, thus this guide aims to explain the most important rules of the law, like the ones concerning administrating private or business-owned pages and accounts, and those regulating the operation of personal or commercial pages and websites. The guide will also answer some questions concerning the responsibilities of website administrators in general, which were mentioned in The Anti-Cyber and Information Technology Crimes Law, no. 175/2018, as these are connected, as well as the rules for digital media means operation in general.
Q: What are the categories of people answering to the Press and Media Regulation Law?
The law targets numerous categories that cannot be accurately enumerated. This is due to the fact that the law expanded the definition of traditional press and media means, like newspapers and satellite TV channels, and websites owned by traditional media means. The law has also included rules concerning the circulation of printed material in all its forms, and ones concerning radio and electronic broadcast means, in addition to rules concerning the operation of websites in general, even if they do not practice activities related to the press or the media. The law has also established some exceptional rules concerning administering private accounts and websites.
Q: If I belong to one of the categories targeted by the law, are there any procedures to follow?
If you belong to any of the categories targeted by the law, you have to follow the procedures for complying with the law. For instance, if you are responsible for managing a website that publishes news, media, or advertisement content, you should follow the procedures for licensing the website.
Q: How much time is available for complying with the law?
There are two cases for entities or individuals that practice an activity that needs complying with the law, the first case is if the activity exists before issuing the law and its executive regulation, where complying procedures should be made within 6 months after issuing date, which starts on February 17th, 2020. The second case concerns entities and individuals who are starting their practices after the issuing of the law, and those have to obtain a license or a permit before starting to practice their activities.
Q: Does the law oblige private websites and accounts to obtain a license?
The law explicitly exempts private websites, means, or accounts from being subject to its provisions, which means that private websites and accounts are exempted from the procedures of obtaining a license or a permit.
Q: Is it possible to apply the blocking penalty to private accounts and blogs?
Although private websites, means, or accounts are generally exempted from the press and media law provisions, the law has set up an exception rule for any private website, blog, or account that has more than 5000 followers to comply with the prohibition of calling for or inciting violation of laws, violence, hatred, implies discrimination against citizens, racism, defamation of individuals, libel, or false accusations against them, ridicule of faiths or beliefs. In case of violating such rules, the Supreme Council for Media Regulation can take measures including stopping or blocking the website, blog, or account.
Q: What are the reasons that could lead to blocking websites?
There is more than one law regulating the reasons and procedures for blocking websites. When it comes to the law dealt with by this guide, it determined two main reasons that may cause website blocking:
- First reason: In case of publishing or spreading false news, whatever calls for, or incites violation of laws, violence, hatred, implies discrimination, racism, defamation, libel or false accusations against individuals, or ridicule of faiths or religious beliefs.
- Second reason: Concerns the prerogative of the Supreme Council for Media Regulation to stop or block the website if it was established in Egypt, or if it was managed itself or its offices or branches from outside the country without obtaining a license from the Council.
Q: What are the conditions for establishing a radio broadcast over the Internet?
There are some general conditions that are required to get a license from the Supreme Council for Media Regulation, including that the applier for obtaining the license should not be deprived of practicing their political rights, or was convicted of a felony, or dishonorable violation unless their rights were restored. Additionally, there are special conditions for electronic or digital broadcast licenses, which are:
- The owner of a media means practicing radio, electronic, or digital broadcast or rebroadcast over the Internet to take the form of a company.
- A person responsible for the broadcast should be assigned and should be dedicated to this job. He/she should also have full legal accountability.
- The electronic or digital radio should keep full documentation records of all the programs and audio, video, and electronic material broadcast for at least the last 12 months of its activities, and should deposit a copy of them in the Supreme Council for Media.
- The licensed radio commits to showing the logo of the digital channel and mentions the name of the audio station, in addition to showing the website, whether it was live or archived.
Q: Are there conditions for importing electronic radio broadcast devices?
By default, electronic radios do not need special broadcast devices, but in case there were multiple broadcast uses that need devices like SNG or Live View, they should be imported through specific entities enumerated exclusively in the law, including the National Media Authority, Egyptian Media Production City, or one of the state-owned companies working in this field.
Q: What are the conditions of tax regulations concerning companies practicing activities of producing or commissioning electronic commercial ads?
In addition to the conditions of obtaining a license from the Supreme Council for Media Regulation, the entity applying for a license should have a tax card. In all cases, the Supreme Council notifies the Egyptian tax authority of the names and locations of the licensed entities. In case of obtaining a license and approval of practicing the activity of producing or commissioning electronic commercials, the licensed entity is obliged to notify the tax authority with each commercial made through any of the ads means, it also should collect stamp tax required for the commercial client of natural persons and deliver it to the concerned tax office.
Q: Is it possible to create an application to broadcast electronic radio?
Yes, the content of written, audio, visual and digital media may be broadcast through an application, provided that approval is obtained from the Supreme Council for Media Regulation, and the Council determines the necessary procedures and rules for this.
Q: Is there a legal responsibility due to the broadcast of content through applications without obtaining a license from the Supreme Council for Media?
Yes, in case of practicing the activity of audio broadcast through applications without obtaining approval of the Supreme Council for Media Regulation it is possible that the one responsible faces a penalty of a fine of no less than a million EGP and no more than 3 million EGP, in addition to the penalty of closure, and confiscation of tools and devices and their contents used in crime.
Q: What is the penalty of establishing a website without a license?
It is prohibited to establish a website without obtaining a license from the Supreme Council for Media Regulation, this includes prohibiting advertising the website or its activities before obtaining the license. In case of violation of this rule, the one responsible would face a penalty of a fine of no less than a million EGP and no more than 3 million GP, in addition to closure and confiscation of tools, devices and their contents used in the crime.
Q: What are the conditions for selling a website or an electronic radio?
It is prohibited to sell an institution, a website, or electronic or digital radio, or a share of such whether as a whole or partially to others, or merging with or within an institution or another means, except with the following condition:
- After practicing actual operation for no less than a year.
- Taking into consideration that selling or merging is among similar entities.
- Obtaining written approval from the Supreme Council for Media Regulation.
- The request for selling or merging should include clarification of the causes of selling or merging and the data of persons or entities to which the selling or with which the merging is desired.
In all cases, the selling or merging that occurs before obtaining approval is annulled.
Q: What are the conditions of establishing websites belonging to scientific, research, or cultural institutions?
The charter for licenses issued by the Supreme Council for Media Regulation, explains that scientific, research, and cultural institutions working within Egypt can request licensing websites without being held by the condition of creating a company or paying fees, on condition that they are limited to the specialty specified for them during and after obtaining the license.
Q: What is the legal responsibility of departments directors and those actually responsible for managing a website or a radio at the time of committing the crime or violation specified by the law?
The Press and Media Regulation Law determines the responsibilities of the person/s legally accountable for managing the media means whether it was electronic or digital website or radio, which are general responsibilities related to managing and owning the website or radio. It however defines other responsibilities for other persons because of the nature of their jobs, like the person actually responsible who has an administrative position, and the departments’ directors in the website or radio. Those are accountable for the crime in case they were proved to know of it, or their normal duties included knowing of it, and their failure to perform these duties was conducive to committing the crime. In such case, the actual responsible or department director faces the same penalty stipulated by the law for the person legally responsible for managing the website or radio.