Egypt: The State Of Media Laws In Egypt

General Introduction

Egypt is viewed as the most popular country in the region in terms of media and advertising.  Arabic is the official language, while English and French are widely spoken amongst the educated class. Islam is the main religion of the State (about 90% of the population are Muslims).

Media and Advertising Laws in Egypt

There are two major regulations for advertising in Egypt:

  • Art. 5 of the Civil Code which stipulates that "The exercise of a right is considered unlawful in the following cases 1) If the sole aim thereof is to harm another person; 2) If the benefit it is desired to realize is out of proportion to the harm caused thereby to another person; 3) If the benefit it is desired to realize in unlawful."
  • Decree no. 220 of 1976 which censors several acts and topics within artistic works including advertisements.

As a general rule to most (non-sensitive) products:

There are generally no restrictions on advertisement for non-sensitive topics i.e. food & drink supplements, nonprescription medication, prescription medication, financial services, herbal & dietary supplements, real estate, and electronics.

However, any non-sensitive topic must fulfill certain criteria such as ensuring their registration under the jurisdiction of the Arab Republic of Egypt, as well as obtaining all the necessary licenses for producing and selling the product in question. Furthermore the advertisement should be compliant with the terms set out in Decree 220 of 1976 and not conflicting with Article 5 of the Egyptian Civil Code.

It should be noted that any advertisement regarding drugs or cosmetics should carry a permit number issued by the Ministry of Health, which also applies to advertising food & beverages products by requiring the permit number provided by the Ministry of Trade and Supply.

In Egypt, generally all media (TV, Broadcasting & Newspapers) require proof of trademark ownership before approving the advertisement. Television in Egypt has an "Informal Code of Ethics" in respect to advertising.

Products which are subject to some restrictions in advertising in Egypt:

In Egypt, there are certain legislations restricting advertising for specific products like tobacco and alcoholic beverages.

Tobacco and Cigarette: Article 4 of Law no. 52 (1981) forbids government organization and public institutions, sporting clubs and other places for public entertainment to participate in any kind of advertising related to cigarettes and tobacco products.

Article 5 of the aforementioned law restrict the advertising of these products to include only the trademark with a list of the product's components and it's price, provided that it shall obviously bear the sentence "Smoking is very harmful to your health"

Alcoholic beverages: Although completely legal, alcohol consumption in Egypt is viewed in a negative light due to the fact that Egypt is a Muslim country.

There is a complete ban on the advertisement of alcoholic beverages on national TV, national radio and print media (with the exception of a partial ban on wine in print media).

In conclusion, advertising alcoholic beverages in Egypt is completely banned.

Use of political speech and religious imagery or statements in Ads:

  • Political speech in advertising is legal under Article 65 of the Egyptian Constitution which provides that "Freedom of thought and opinion is guaranteed. Every person has the right to express his/her opinion verbally or by any means of expression and publication." However, considering that Egypt has undergone two revolutions since 2011, the political situation in Egypt is polarized to some extent.
  • The use of religious imagery or statement in ads has no special provisions banning it. However, it is considered as a sensitive subject and has very strict requirements that should not be breached. The main provisions of legislation that regulates the censorship of religious material in artworks are the sub clauses of Article 2 of Decree 220 of 1976 which prohibits some religious acts to be made in advertising.

Conclusion:

Any advertisements which lack of respect the public taste, customs and community traditions, public morality, non-respect for religious values, etc. will be banned by the CPA (Consumer Protection Agency).

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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