Media

Regulatory and institutional structure

Summarise the regulatory framework for the media sector in your jurisdiction.

 

The media sector is governed by various laws and regulations, including the following:

  • the Investment Law (72/2017) and its Executive Regulation;
  • the Media Law;
  • the Prime Minister Decree (411/2000) establishing the Media Public Free Zone (MPFZ); and
  • the Media Licensing Regulation.

 

Most of the key media projects in Egypt operate inside the MPFZ, which is a public free zone governed by regulated by various directives of the Chairman of the General Authority for Investment (GAFI). 

All projects operating under the Investment Law are qualified by a large number of investment incentives.

 

For any media project to be qualified for operation inside MPFZ, this project must, in general, take a specific legal form and must comply with the Arab Media Ethical Charter and MPFZ’s Business Controls and Principles.

The services generally allowed to operate inside the MPFZ include, inter alia, radio, television, information broadcasting, e-content production and marketing. The MPFZ may also authorise hotels, banks, and malls to operate inside the MPFZ to provide their services to the licensed media projects.

According to the Media Law and the Media Licensing Regulation, which was published on 13 May 2020, the Supreme Council of Media (SCoM) is empowered, inter alia, to:

  • receive notification for establishing Egyptian newspapers or non-Egyptian newspapers that are issued or distributed in Egypt;
  • grant licences to visual, audio or digital channels that either registered in Egypt with GAFI or non-Egyptian channels that are being broadcast from Egypt;
  • determine and apply the rules and requirements protecting the audience in Egypt;
  • grant licences to broadcast relay stations, websites, digital and satellite platforms, fibre satellite distribution and content distribution;
  • authorise the importation of satellite and internet broadcasting devices; and
  • authorise the importation of non-Egyptian prints.
Ownership restrictions

Do any foreign ownership restrictions apply to media services? Is the ownership or control of broadcasters otherwise restricted? Are there any regulations in relation to the cross-ownership of media companies, including radio, television and newspapers?

According to the Media Law and the Media Licensing Regulation, which was published on 13 May 2020, foreign ownership restrictions apply to holding the majority stake or any stake giving the right to manage any Egyptian satellite or terrestrial television, as well as any Egyptian digital, wired or wireless station. However, non-Egyptian satellite and terrestrial television as well as non-Egyptian digital, wired and wireless stations may be licensed to operate in Egypt providing an approval is obtained from the SCoM. This approval requires, inter alia, operating inside a specific media area, the ability to block any content involving, inter alia, violence, suicide, self-injury or nudity.

Licensing requirements

What are the licensing requirements for broadcasting, including the fees payable and the timescale for the necessary authorisations?

According to the Media Law and the Media Licensing Regulation, which was published on 13 May 2020, a licence from the SCoM is required for any company to be in a position to operate a broadcast relay station in or to Egypt. This licence requires the following:

  • payment of 250,000 Egyptian pounds to the SCoM;
  • obtaining an approval from the NTRA; and
  • incorporation of a company in a form of sole person company, limited liability company or joint stock company with a minimum authorised capital of 5,000,000 Egyptian pounds.

 

If the licence request is accepted, it should be valid for five years, renewable upon a request at least six months prior to the end of the said five years.

Foreign programmes and local content requirements

Are there any regulations concerning the broadcasting of foreign-produced programmes? Do the rules require a minimum amount of local content? What types of media fall outside this regime?

According to the Media Law and the Media Licensing Regulation, which was published on 13 May 2020, a licence from the SCoM is required for any company to be in a position to operate and distribute recorded or live content in Egypt, whether through satellite or the internet. This licence requires the following:

  • payment of 500,000 Egyptian pounds to the SCoM for the company and 50,000 Egyptian pounds for each website; and
  • incorporation of a company in a form of sole person company, limited liability company or joint stock company with a minimum authorised capital of 50 million Egyptian pounds.

 

If the licence request is accepted, it should be valid for five years, renewable upon a request at least six months prior to the end of the said five years.

 

All content must, inter alia:

  • be in compliance with the Egyptian Constitution, applicable laws, regulations and professional codes and ethics; and
  • be stored for at least one year and hosted by a server that is located at a secure location in Egypt, which location may not be changed without prior approval from the SCoM.
Advertising

How is broadcast media advertising regulated? Is online advertising subject to the same regulation?

The Media Law and the Media Licensing Regulation, which was published on 13 May 2020, differentiate between Egyptian and non-Egyptian media advertising companies as follows:

For Egyptian media advertising companies:

  • a licence is required from the SCoM;
  • non-Egyptians may not hold any majority stake or any other stake that allows them to manage the company;
  • incorporation of a company in a form of sole person company, limited liability company or joint stock company with a minimum authorised capital of 100,000 Egyptian pounds for holding websites, 5 million Egyptian pounds for general or news television stations, 2 million Egyptian pounds for specialised television stations, 15 million Egyptian pounds for each broadcasting station and 2.5 million Egyptian pounds for each electronic, television station or channel; and
  • shareholders must subscribe to at least 35 per cent of the company’s capital.

 

For non-Egyptian media advertising companies:

  • an approval is required from the SCoM;
  • this approval requires, inter alia, operating inside a specific media area, the availability of blocking any content involving, inter alia, violence, suicide, self-injury or nudity; and
  • payment of the licensing fee as per the following table.

 

Fee (Egyptian pounds)

Type of media

1 million

General and news media

500,000

Specialised media

100,000

general website

3 million

  • social networking or promoting individual’s websites
  • audio, video and text service on demand websites; and
  • goods, products and services marketing websites.

100,000

Any other website

 

Must-carry obligations

Are there regulations specifying a basic package of programmes that must be carried by operators’ broadcasting distribution networks? Is there a mechanism for financing the costs of such obligations?

The Media Law and the Media Licensing Regulation, which was published on 13 May 2020, do not yet specify any must-carry obligations or a mechanism for financing the cost of such obligation.

Regulation of new media content

Is new media content and its delivery regulated differently from traditional broadcast media? How?

New media contents are subject to the same regulation as advertising.

Digital switchover

When is the switchover from analogue to digital broadcasting required or when did it occur? How will radio frequencies freed up by the switchover be reallocated?

 

The digital switchover started in Egypt in 2013. The National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority is empowered under the Telecoms Law to reallocate and manage radio frequencies.

Digital formats

Does regulation restrict how broadcasters can use their spectrum?

No.

Media plurality

Is there any process for assessing or regulating media plurality (or a similar concept) in your jurisdiction? May the authorities require companies to take any steps as a result of such an assessment?

The Media Law and the Media Licensing Regulation, which was published on 13 May 2020, do not yet specify any process of media plurality in Egypt.

Key trends and expected changes

Provide a summary of key emerging trends and hot topics in media regulation in your country.

The Media Licensing Regulation entered into force in Egypt on 14 May 2020. It does not yet involve any practice in Egypt and includes a number of provisions that need clarification on how they will be applied in reality.

Law stated date

Correct on

Give the date on which the information above is accurate.

15 May 2020