|16 May, 2018

UAE authority tells electronic media outlets to register by end of May

Social media influencers and sites selling audio, video or games content all need to be licensed under new laws passed in March

The Twitter application is seen on a phone screen August 3, 2017.

The Twitter application is seen on a phone screen August 3, 2017.

REUTERS/Thomas White

The National Media Council (NMC) of the United Arab Emirates has told electronic media outlets including news websites, digital content providers and social media influencers who are paid for promotions that they need to register their activities by the end of the month.

The authority said on Tuesday that as a result of legislation passed in March this year, commercial activities of electronic media organisations now need to be regulated.

Electronic media has become one of the fastest growing sectors in the Middle East, especially in the areas of digital videos, games and e-books, officials from the council said during a workshop held in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, adding that regulation would attract more investments into the country’s media sector as it provides better legal protection for companies. 


“It is an important sector that impacts large segments of the society, and proper legislation that ensures that online content respects the social, cultural and religious values of the country is necessary,” Ayman Khasawneh, legal advisor at NMC said at the workshop.

The NMC also said that the new guidelines will protect vulnerable segments of society – especially children – from harmful content, he noted, adding that health-related ads, for instance, need to be properly regulated and monitored.

“Speaking within the GCC region, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait had already started implementing their electronic media legislations that were issued before the UAE’s legislation,” he added.

The council specified four categories that are subject to electronic media registration requirements. These are websites showcasing and selling audio, visual and written content, including selling e-books, video games, and subscriptions to consume digital content.

The second category is for websites specialising in electronic advertisements, including websites that primarily aim to sell electronic advertisements for commercial purposes, and owners of social media accounts within the UAE that post commercial advertisements for monetary gain.

“We are launching a specialised gateway for social media influencers this Ramadan. The gateway will boost their accounts’ credibility as well as visibility, and it’ll also help protect their interests,” Dr Rashid Al Nuaimi, the Council's executive director of media affairs said at the event.

“Accounts that post charity advertisements are not included, “Al Nuaimi said in response to one of the questions.

The third category is for electronic news websites and social media accounts that offer news services.

“A news website, along with all of its affiliated social media accounts from Twitter, Instagram, Facebook,…fall under a single registration and require one licence,” Khasawneh said in response to a question from Zawya.

However, websites of licensed traditional media outlets that include newspapers, magazines, radio and television do not require any additional licences, Khasawneh said at the media briefing that preceded the workshop.

The fourth category that is subject to registration requirements under the new legislation is for websites that offer book publishing services – either electronic books or those that offer an on-demand printing service to authors.

Licensing fees range from 1,000 UAE dirhams ($272) up to 15,000 dirhams, depending on the category. Electronic websites and accounts (including news and advertising websites) need to pay a fee of 15,000 dirhams per year.

The licence fee for selling electronic books, newspapers and magazine is 1,000 dirhams, with an annual renewal fee of 500 dirhams. Selling electronic video games incurs a licence fee 8,000 dirhams, renewed annually for 4,000 dirhams.

Websites and accounts selling and publishing audio content attract an initial registration fee of 4,000 dirhams, and an annual renewal fee of 2,000 dirhams. For sites offering visual content, however, the fee is 6,000 dirhams for registration and 3,000 dirhams for renewal.

Websites and accounts publishing electronic books and offering print-on-order services will pay a 3,500 dirham registration fee, and the same amount for renewal.

(Reporting by Nada Al Rifai; Editing by Michael Fahy)


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