UAE: New Media Law Approved

United Arab Emirates News developments

UAE: New Media Law Approved

Arabian Business, 18 December 2023: The UAE government has approved a new Media Law.

Federal Decree-Law No. 55/2023 has been issued to regulate the media sector and organise media activities in the country.

This includes radio, television, newspapers and cinemas in the country.

The Law applies to individuals, organisations, media outlets and free zones dedicated to media in the country.

It allows individuals and legal entities to own media institutions and outlets in line with specific regulations and conditions.

Media activities include the production, circulation, printing and publishing of media content as well as audio, video and digital broadcasting regardless of whether they are subscription-based or free-to-air.

This includes all affairs relating to the issuing and oversight of licences and permits for the execution of media activities by individuals, establishments, and media institutions, including radio and television broadcasting, cinema movies and creative productions, newspapers and publications, digital and electronic media activities, book fairs, foreign publications, foreign media offices, printing, circulating and publishing media content and aerial, ground, and maritime imaging operations.

In addition, the Law organises the UAE Media Council and local government entities responsible for regulating media affairs.

All media individuals and institutions operating in the UAE have to comply with the national media content standards.

These include respecting the divine, and Islamic beliefs, as well as all other religions and beliefs.

They also include respecting the country’s sovereignty, symbols and institutions and the supreme interests of the UAE and its society and respecting the directions and policies of the country nationally and internationally.

In addition, they include avoiding any actions that may have an adverse impact on the UAE’s foreign relations and respecting the culture and civilisation, national identity and values of the UAE community.

Media outlets and individuals must refrain from disseminating or circulating information that may offend or compromise national unity or social cohesion.

They also have to refrain from disseminating or circulating information that may incite violence, hatred or propagate a spirit of discord among society members or the UAE’s legal and economic system.

Justice and security must not be exploited or abused either and privacy rules and individuals’ private lives must be respected.

The publication, broadcasting or circulating of rumours, false and misleading news or the publication of any matter that may constitute instigation to commit crimes must be avoided.

The UAE Media Council will be responsible for issuing permits for the screening of cinematographic and other creative productions.

They will also be responsible for defining the classifications of the Media Content Rating System for print and creative productions. This includes books, video games and cinematic production.

In addition, the Council will be responsible for determining the age groups suitable to view media and entertainment content and for issuing permits to individuals providing advertising or media content on social media and other modern technical means regardless of whether they are subscription-based or free-to-air.

Licensed or authorised individuals and media outlets will have to be overseen and supervised by the relevant authority.

The Council will be allowed to conduct surveillance and inspection of persons, outlets and media institutions, including in free zones.

The UAE Media Council, together with the relevant authorities will promote the protection of intellectual property among individuals, establishments and media institutions in the UAE.

Individuals, organisations and media outlets will have w12 months from the date of the Decree-Law being published to comply with it and its Implementing Regulations.

This may be extended by a Cabinet Decision.

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Tanya Jain