The New Media Law
Perhaps one of the major problems that challenge the media and concerns society is the need to provide restrictions or limitations to kind of information being released by the media and the various policies and practices that govern its actions. However, in line with addressing this issue, there is also a need to balance the necessity of organizing the media and considering the rights and privileges of individuals who work for the industry, journalists for instance, as human beings and vessels of data and information to the public. Often, the problem lies in reconciling both sides in an effort to realize and maintain equilibrium in the state of affairs faced by the media and society. Resolving this issue is dependent on the laws and policies implemented by a government and the evenhandedness of these laws and policies to present an amenable condition to the media.
In the United Arab Emirates, a new media law was recently being reviewed by local courts through the endorsement of the nation’s Vice President and Ruler of Dubai. It has raised various complaints and objections for individuals who work for the media due to the vague and ambiguous decrees that the new media law seeks to implement for the adherence of the media. Apparently, the purpose of the new media law was to limit or restrict journalists and broadcasters in publishing or airing information that is injurious to the nation’s image and reputation. The view of the injurious nature of bad publicity for the nation is in line with the belief that it might influence its economy one way or another. Journalists will not be incarcerated but will be fined instead with fees ranging from fifty thousand to one million in UAE Dirham. The performance of violations against the new media law for the second time will lead to the invalidation of licenses granted to media outlets
Perhaps the decision of the government of UAE was motivated by the fact that foreign investors might withdraw from directly instituting commercial enterprises or striking partnership deals with business leaders in the nation if UAEs image and reputation is tainted by negative remarks as set forth by its media institution. Consequently, the withdrawal of foreign investors by engaging in business operations within and with UAE affects the nation’s economy. Under these supposed circumstances, I would have to be in agreement of the importance of keeping the nation’s image and reputation free from unconstructive comments or remarks since it is contributive to its economic position. This point seems to be an advantage that comes along with the implementation of the new media law since it will nurture the growth and development of the nation’s economy by relying on foreign relations and partnerships.
However, I would have to disagree that establishing a new media law to restrict the media from airing or publishing injurious information is the right way to resolve the problem. The best possible way is for the nation’s government to refrain from performing illegal and unethical acts that might be a source of off-putting remarks thrown toward it. In addition, the new media law should not restrict airing or publishing injurious information entirely but provide authority over the government and its media councils to sanction journalists and broadcasters who air or publish erroneous information. I believe that although information aired or published by the media is unconstructive, as well as it is true, then the public has the right to know especially if it concerns their being citizens of the country. Under these pretexts lie the disadvantages of the new media law, particularly for the media and the public.
Moreover, the government of the UAE may rationalize that the new media law does not really put brakes on the media since it does not state that journalists and broadcasters are banned directly from airing or publishing unconstructive information. The government might lay claims that it does not violate the liberty of the media to present information, but it clearly restricts journalists and broadcasters from engaging in honest and truthful journalism and news reporting. The new media law is a restrained and cunning way to deal desperately with the government’s fear of the nation’s name being tainted with negative constructs, while trying to do away with being criticized for taking away the rights and privileges of the media by understating it and reversing it to positive statements that seeks to make journalists believe that the new media law is protecting them from being put to jail.
First, the new media law claims to aim for fair and unbiased journalism and news reporting by the prohibition of the airing and publication of information that does not present both sides of the story. However, the government may easily manipulate the non-airing or non-publication of information by controlling the announcement of their side simply by refusing to communicate with the media. Second, the new media law confines the airing or publication of images of the criminals being tried in court. This may be an acceptable reason, although slightly ridiculous since the law does not clearly state when and how the images and names should and would be made public, under the concept of innocence until proven guilty. Third, although the new media law is still undergoing court reviews, the policies are already being implemented by the National Media Council or NMC without the help of an independent body that will ensure that the NMC will not only look after the best interests of the government. In addition, the decisions of the NMC do not require reviews or inputs by the legal system or courts. This is clearly a political maneuver to ensure that the government’s interests will always be at hand. Fourth, the NMC will not only be authorized to implement the aforementioned laws but also to specifically outlaw books and other publications without undergoing proper reviews and assessment.
Overall, the new media law seems to be law intended for the sole advantage of the UAE government. It presents only one advantage for the media and the public, and that is the protection of the nation’s economy. However, in order to do so, I believe that implementing the new media law is not the only and proper solution to address the problem. I strongly support the impression that the new media law is only a political pawn that the government of the UAE presented to support its interests by limiting what the public is supposed to know by controlling the media. Clearly, the new media law is indistinct and mostly illicit. It should be subjected to various reviews and revisions in order to ensure that the actions taken by the government to endorse and implement laws are fair and amenable to all parties.