x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Ownership of new media outlets under the spotlight

Emerging Egypt: Calls for better press regulation and the lack of transparency over the ownership of some new media outlets has dampened new media's success.

A media boom after Egypt's revolution has pointed towards an era of liberal press and more objective editorial content. But calls for better press regulation and the lack of transparency over the ownership of some new media outlets has dampened their success.

What are the main characteristics of Egyptian media?

Newspapers, television and radio channels fall under three main categories. They are either government-owned, including the Al Ahram newspaper, or they represent an opposition political party, which is considered to exercise less freedom of speech and a higher rate of censorship than its government-owned counterpart. Finally there are independent or privately owned newspapers and television channels, such as ONTV and Al Masry al Youm, which are usually owned by one or two major shareholders.

Has this structure changed much in the post-Mubarak period?

Not really. There are more private media companies that claim to have liberal views on politics and the economy, but the same government-owned companies still exist. The military council now has the upper hand in terms of content, replacing the stranglehold of the Mubarak government.

So exactly how many newspapers, TV channels and radio stations have been launched since the revolution?

That is difficult to answer because of the lack of regulators monitoring the industry. But it has been suggested that there are about 500 television channels, of which around 20 are new, and about 40 newspapers, with a handful launching since the revolution. Some weekly newspapers have also switched to daily publication since January 25.

What media regulation exists in Egypt?

The Egyptian constitution, which is up for debate until a new government is brought into power, currently guarantees freedom of expression. But the government can also legally interfere in the media by censorship, which ultimately includes suspension. There is no independent regulatory body to monitor, regulate and question any medium, with the government as the ultimate authority.