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|14 March, 2019

New media law planned in Bahrain

We have added a new dedicated chapter that deals with electronic media and it will organise all websites: minister

Image used for illustrative purpose. Palmtrees along King Faisal Highway in Bahrain. Showing the new developments. On the right the world trade center under a clear blue sky.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Palmtrees along King Faisal Highway in Bahrain. Showing the new developments. On the right the world trade center under a clear blue sky.

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Bahrain - A new media law will be on the legislators’ table next month, according to a top minister.

The government is putting the final touches to the law before being presented to the Cabinet for approval, said Information Affairs Minister Ali Al Rumaihi.

However, he did not provide any details.

Media in the country is currently governed by the Publications Law dating back to 2002, with MPs attempting to get it amended for years.

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Speaking at the first edition of the Fourth Power Forum at Bahrain University in Sakhir, Mr Al Rumaihi said the updated law will cover everything.

“The government has finished preparing a comprehensive law that tackles and covers everything with it being a matter of formalities to complete before the Cabinet approves it,” said Mr Al Rumaihi, who is also the Bahrain Institute of Political Development (BIPD) board chairman.

“It is not like Bahrain has been suffering from a legislative vacuum, we are covered through the Publications Law, but we believe there has to be progress that takes us beyond that.

“We have added a new dedicated chapter that deals with electronic media and it will organise all websites and affiliates under licensed media establishments.

“However, the law will not address personal social media accounts, which will continue being handled separately.”

The forum was organised by the university’s Media Club in co-ordination with the Bahrain Journalists Association (BJA) and the ministry.

Meanwhile, Shura Council members and former parliament first vice-chairman Ali Al Aradi defended the 2002 Publications Law.

“It is old, let’s say backdated, but it is not backwards or else the media sector in Bahrain would have been in chaos,” he said addressing the forum.

“We are looking for a new balanced law, something that drastically amends the current one, making it more flexible while adding new things that have surfaced since its introduction in 2002 – addressing the needs of the future, with more reliance on fast news, not necessarily print, audio, video or digital, but things that we don’t think about now but could be related.

“As legislators, we don’t see the new law, which has been drawn up by the government along with media establishments and top media personalities; the core could be great but again it is more about details that we are interested in.”

BJA president Ahdeya Ahmed said legislators should focus on gender equality by giving paternity leave in parallel with the current maternity leave.

Other speakers at the forum included ministry media communication methods director Yousif Mohammed, BJA vice-president Rashid Al Hamer, Al Bilad editor-in-chief Moa’nes Al Mardi and Bahrain Gateway website director Anas Mohammed.

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