Al-Masry Al-Youm has obtained a letter sent on Thursday from the Supreme Council for Journalism to an intermediary provider of SMS text message services which confirms reports previously published in the paper that new restrictions will be placed on news text message services.
The council will limit the service to newspapers published under a license from the Supreme Council for Journalism–excluding "companies and organizations which do not have a relationship with the Council," according to the letter. This will be the arrangement until "legal regulations on the matter" are put in place.
In the letter, the Supreme Council for Journalism said it will be possible for newspapers that have publishing licenses to approach the council directly with requests to use SMS services, but warned that even if licensed newspapers request to send news out by SMS, such requests will still have to be reviewed .
"In the case that newspapers submit requests of this nature to the council, they will be reviewed in light of the legal rules and precepts which bear upon this subject derived from Law 96/1996 on press regulation, and the Code of Journalistic Ethics," the letter reads.
According to a source at one company providing this service, the situation is clear: Organizations which do not obtain licenses from the Supreme Council for Journalism will not be permitted to use the services–like Al Jazeera, the BBC, Masrawy, and other media outlets. The source explained that the goal is to prevent the spread of political news during the People's Assembly and presidential elections.
In a related context, satellite broadcast companies have said the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority has banned them from presenting direct broadcasting services to private companies, in a step that experts are describing as a crackdown on independent media before the upcoming People's Assembly elections.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.