(KhaleejTimes)– All online media agencies or enterprises operating in the UAE without licences will be fined or shut down, according to new regulations.
The National Media Council (NMC) on Tuesday issued a set of regulations for electronic media, which govern all online activities, including e-commerce, publishing and selling of print, video, and audio material as well as advertising.
The new guidelines require all news websites, electronic publishing outlets, and on-demand printing, including commercial activities conducted through social media within the UAE to first get a media licence from the NMC, allowing them to operate in the country.
Social media businesses need licence
Under the new regulations, social media influencers promoting brands and businesses for cash will also need to get a media licence.
According to the NMC, all media enterprises operating without licences have been given three months to ensure their activities fully comply with the new regulations.
“Any firm or person, who uses social media to sell, trade or promote brands for money will have to get a license from the National Media Council,” Dr Rashid Al Nuaimi, NMC’S Executive Director of Media Affairs told Khaleej Times.
“Social media influencers will also have to get a media licence if they are using their online platforms to promote businesses or related activities for cash.”
Officials have also warned that establishments violating the media law will be slapped with fines of up to Dh5,000 or have their online websites or social media accounts shut down.
“The regulations apply to all electronic media activities carried out within the UAE, including those in free zones,” Dr Rashid Al Nuaimi, NMC’S Executive Director of Media Affairs said during a press conference on Tuesday.
“The regulations requires that any form of electronic media activity that is determined by the National Media Council shall be prohibited except after a decision has been issued that approves the granting of a media licence in accordance with the laws and regulations.”
The new regulations, according to the NMC, seek to help the UAE media sector remain on top of the rapid developments in electronic media, in addition to enriching and organising digital content, and ensuring that media material respects the religious, cultural and social values ??of the UAE, all the while promoting freedom of expression and constructive dialogue.
The new code of practice provides balanced and responsible media content that respects the privacy of individuals, and protects the public especially children from negative or harmful material.
The new law exempts websites of licensed traditional media such as newspapers, television, radio and magazines and do not need to secure new licences. The websites of government, universities and schools are also excluded from these regulations.
“The new regulations are part of the Council’s plan to promote and develop an advanced legislative and regulatory environment for the UAE media sector, keeping it up-to-speed with regards to all technological developments that have transformed media in recent times,” said Mansour Ibrahim Al Mansouri, director general of the NMC.
Al Mansouri added that electronic media has become a highly influential and widespread tool and that it is imperative that that government enhances its reliability.
“Digital media is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the Middle East, especially videos, games and e-books. Regulating this sector will attract new global investments, which, in turn, will improve its development and competitiveness,” he added.
“The new guidelines seek to enhance the contribution of electronic media to the wider publishing industry, providing legal protection for the outlets and enhancing their competitiveness, all in an effort to increase advertising spend and grow the sector as a whole.”
The new regulations adhere to the Terms of Reference of the National Media Council No. 11 of 2016, and align with the outcomes of the Future of Media Retreat, held by the NMC in February 2018.
Age Classification for Media Content
The NMC had earlier issued the age classification regulations for media content, which require relevant authorities to classify publications, electronic games, films and other artworks according to the appropriate age group, in order to preserve the UAE’s social values and its cultural heritage, and protect its children from any negative influences.