Rules for media coverage of elections announced

Minister of Information Anas el-Fiqqi announced yesterday a set of unified standards and principles to govern media coverage of the Shura Council and People’ s Assembly elections, decided on by the media performance appraisal committee headed by Farouq Abu Zaid and approved by the Supreme Electoral Commission.

El-Fiqqi gave instructions to radio and television channels to abide by principles of neutrality and transparency in giving the different candidates equal opportunities to appear in the media. El-Fiqqi said that rules on coverage of the presidential election will be announced at an appropriate time.

During a press conference at the Information Ministry’s headquarters, el-Fiqqi urged private Egyptian satellite channels to be neutral and transparent in their coverage of the electoral process. He drew attention to the big increase in the number of private channels, currently 56.

“We are putting all news reporting and technical capacities of the Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU) at the disposal of those private channels for free,” the minister added.

The standards set by the media performance appraisal committee include respecting the personal lives of candidates and observing the values of Egyptian society, as well as protecting national unity. 

The committee also emphasized the need for neutral coverage, saying programs should not present material that represents a form of direct publicity, be this negative or positive, such as plays, movies and songs.

A distinction must also be made between covering the official activities of election candidates who hold official positions, and their campaign activities, el-Fiqqi said.

Media professionals who run in the elections will be banned from presenting radio or television programs during campaign period, as specified by the law.

Regarding radio and television advertising, the committee said that candidates must observe professional and ethical criteria and should not target other candidate’s private lives or criticize their morals, whether directly or indirectly. Advertisements should also uphold the values of Egyptian society’ and respect national unity.

Further, advertising material should not be broadcast within news bulletins, TV programs or during real-time coverage of political events.

Meanwhile, Osama el-Sheikh, head of the Egyptian Radio and Television Union, said a radio talk show will be dedicated to political parties to present their platforms, with every candidate being given five minutes to present his ideas.

Channels One, Two and Nile News will have similar talk shows to allow candidates to present their agendas, el-Sheikh added.

Ismail Khairat, head of the State Information Service, said the authority is working on facilitating coverage of the elections by foreign reporters.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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