Registration is to begin on Monday for Egypt’s new Broadcasters Union, it announced in its first press conference on Saturday.
Applications will be available at the State broadcasting headquarters in Maspero and Media Production City in 6th of October City, union President Hamdy al-Kunayisi said, adding that this would be coordinated with governorate officials and local broadcasting offices.
New legislation concerning broadcasting in Egypt was issued last January, when the process of establishing the new union began. Egyptians working in broadcasting were previously permitted to join the Journalists Syndicate.
Kunayisi commended the Journalists Syndicate, where the presser was held, for its help in establishing the union, and thanked its outgoing president Yehia Qallash and current head Abdel Mohsen Salama, as well as deputy head Khaled Miri, likening the relationship between the two unions to that of twins.
Nominees for the Supreme Council for the Regulation of Media and the National Media Organization would not be public knowledge, Kunayisi explained, so as not to “embarrass” those who are not chosen, and to “avoid rumors” that those not selected aren’t suitable, he added, in reference to previous rumors that the committee he chairs was selected by Egypt’s security bodies, which he denied.
The new legislation covers “all activity based on the broadcasting of news, or information, or thoughts, or opinions, or facts from sources through audio or visual means, with the purpose of informing the public or enlightening it.” Theatre and entertainment broadcasting are not included within its parameters.
Critics of the law have said it is an attempt by the state to control broadcasting and penalize anyone who operates outside its auspices. In principle, anyone operating outside the parameters of the rules of the union could face imprisonment and a fine of LE20,000-100,000. Anyone who broadcasts “false information” could face the same penalties.
In a previous statement to Mada Masr, Emad Mubarak, former director of the Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression, said, “As usual in Egyptian law with regards to penalties, the penalty is harsh and disproportionate to such small infringements of the law, a contradiction of basic legal standards.”
Kunayisi said the union would “do everything in its power to save broadcasting from mistakes and sins,” adding, “We will follow, question and hold TV and radio broadcasting accountable.” He described the union as the realization of an “elusive dream we have had for 10 years,” thanking several broadcasters such as Gamal al-Shaer, Sayed Ghadban and Tawfiq Okasha for their roles in helping found it.