x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Media supervision should be increased, says FNC

FNC members have called for the National Media Council (NMC) to be given further rights to supervise locally produced media content.

DUBAI // FNC members yesterday called for a federal media law.

At an open discussion between five FNC members, media professionals and students yesterday, all agreed that the National Media Council (NMC) should be given further rights to supervise locally produced media content.

Dr Mona Al Bahar, chairwoman of the FNC's education, youth and media committee, said the absence of an up-to-date federal media law was causing problems.

The current law was passed in 1980. An amended version was passed by the FNC in 2009 but has never been published or enacted. Even that version, she said, was not correct.

"For instance, it does not cover electronic media," she said.

Each emirate is left to follow their own policies and companies are self-regulating under unclear rules.

AA, an Emirati TV producer, said that with more than 40 television channels and 300 newspapers and magazines in the country, "the big question" was what the NMC was doing to supervise it all.

"Can we control international media coming out of the UAE, for example Sky News [Arabia], which will have Emirati presenters in [traditional clothes]? Can we control it 10 years from now?" he asked.

Dr Aisha Al Nuaimi, a mass communication professor at UAE University, said control over the outlets had dissolved. "The NMC needs to be the federal umbrella," she said.

Dr Al Nuaimi called for public-service television channels for Emiratis, along the lines of the BBC.

"While it is independent, it can be a local channel to reflect [us]," she said. "We will have our own channels."

Dr Al Bahar said it would be difficult to supervise the many media outlets, therefore it was better to set clear guidelines. She noted that free-zone media outlets that broadcast inside the Emirates are regulated, yet those that broadcast outside the country are not.

Dr Al Bahar said a final report with recommendations would be compiled within the next fortnight and raised with the NMC.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Foreign Minister, recently took over as the NMC chairman from Sheikh Hamdan bin Mubarak.

"People are hopeful that under Sheikh Abdullah's [leadership], the NMC will improve," Dr Al Bahar said.

The FNC committee also found a lack of Emiratis in the media workforce and an absence of structured training for media students. Students and professors called for media outlets to be compelled to offer training and internships to Emiratis.