Egyptian journalists discuss plan to establish self-regulatory body
Egyptian journalists and media experts met earlier this month in Cairo to discuss the establishment of a media self-regulatory body in Egypt. The conference was held at the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate headquarters in Cairo with support from the UNESCO Cairo Office.
The conference opened with a welcoming remark from UNESCO Adviser in Communication and Information Marius Lukosiunas, who noted that UNESCO advocates and supports media self-regulation systems in many countries, including in the Arab world.
The prominent Egyptian journalist and freedom of expression advocate Ragaie El-Merghani then presented a paper on the “Establishment of an Independent National Media Self-Regulatory Body: Goals, Functions, and Regulatory and Legislative Framework.”
Merghani emphasized the need for such a self-regulatory body, reminding participants of the political struggle faced by both private and public media in Egypt. He said this period would be the best time to implement self-regulation in the country.
“Media in Egypt is sick and it needs treatment. And the best treatment is full independence,” said Merghani.
Merghani’s paper presents the idea of an independent, transparent self-regulatory body, established voluntarily and aimed to strengthen editorial independence, adjudicate complaints, contact media outlets regarding public concerns and questions, and consult government and legislature. Such a regulatory body would give authority to journalists to determine their own rules, rights and responsibilities and to enforce them.
The self-regulatory body should be composed of lawyers, publishers, journalists, media outlet owners and representatives of civil society engaged in defending media freedom. The paper recommends this body to consist of 12 members, who would be charged with laying down basic principles of professional ethics.
Many prominent Egyptian journalist and public figures contributed to the discussion on the self-regulatory body, including Anwar Al-Sayed, Advisor to the President of Egypt; Mohamed El-Sawy, member of the Constitutional Assembly; Mamdouh Al-Waly, chairman of Egyptian Journalists Syndicate and member of the Constitutional Assembly; and Gamal Eid, director of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI).
The conference concluded by establishing a steering committee of major stakeholders in Egyptian media to prepare a policy framework document on the proposed self-regulatory body.
The conference was broadcast on Egyptian television.