Parliament’s Media and Culture Committee approved on Tuesday suggestions made for modifying Article 68 of the Press Regulation Law issued in 1996.
The modifications will allow for the reformation of the new Supreme Press Council. According to state-run newspaper Al-Ahram, the approval on suggested modifications came with the support of 324 MPs.
Suggestions made on the aforementioned article were introduced by MP Mostafa Bakry, who argued that his suggestions were necessary in order to avoid unrest in state-run media institutions, according to Al Ahram.
Modifications made to the article give President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi the authority to form the Supreme Press Council that would carry out all tasks executed by the Shura Council regarding work by journalists and press institutions, no matter their affiliation.
The suggestions were refused by only four MPs, who argued that the modifications were made rapidly and it was better to issue the Unified Media Law instead of these modifications, state-run Al-Ahram reported.
Head of the Media and Culture Committee Osama Heikal asserted that modifications executed in the Press Regulation Law are not related to the Unified Media Law, noting that the committee has recommended speedy discussion on the Unified Media Law in parliament to quickly solve the problems of state-run newspapers soon, according to Al-Ahram.
In May, the cabinet approved the Unified Media Law after months of back and forth dialogue between the government and members of the media and press community, who expected ”a long battle” over the suggested articles that sought to cancel the law’s suggested prison terms for journalists.
The new law states that no detention or bail for release should be applied to journalists and media professionals for alleged crimes related to publishing or any other activity related to their jobs.
The new law includes the removal of systemic pressure on journalists to reveal their sources and of the mandate to search their houses in crimes related to publishing. It also prohibits restrictions on access to information, ensures the right to attend public conferences, interview citizens, and photograph in unrestricted zones—such as military areas.