Fairness of Mass Media in Egypt’s Presidential Elections

In Egypt /Road Map Program by

The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) hereby announces undertaking an initiative to monitor media coverage of electoral campaigns for the presidential elections to be held on the 7th of September. Monitoring shall cover the period from official launching of electoral campaigns on the 17th of August and ending on day of voting. The monitoring process will include state-owned and independent mass media on basis of their supposed neutrality and objectivity. CIHRS decided to exclude partisan media outlets, despite their important impact on public opinion, because of their partisan nature that entails prior biases known to readers, unlike state funded and independent media, which are supposed to be neutral and objective.

The list of media outlets to be monitored by the CIHRS includes 17 daily and weekly newspapers and 6 TV channels. In implementing this initiative, the CIHRS shall adhere to all internationally recognized standards on the role of media in elections, asserting the necessity to avoid monopoly and/or control of mass media by one party and the use of mass media to exclude some parties. These standards also include the necessity to adhere to objectivity and neutrality, which requires presenting the readers with multiple ideas and platforms to enable them to take informed decisions. These principles are also the basis upon which the text of law no. 174 of 2005 on organizing presidential elections is based, and which are described as “adherence, in the use of state-owned audio and visual mass media for electoral propaganda purposes, to achieving equality between candidates”.

During media monitoring process, CIHRS shall adopt an approach combining qualitative and quantitative methods of analysis. In developing this approach, CIHRS made use of the wide experience of international organizations specialized in monitoring media performance, especially during elections. International Media Support (IMS), Denmark and MEMEO 1998, Slovakia, come on top of these organizations. They contributed to developing, implementing and testing this approach in many countries such as Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Latin America, and also in Arab countries like Tunisia, Palestine and Lebanon. IMS has provided CIHRS with valuable assistance to undertake this initiative. In addition, CIHRS invited a group of Arab experts from Tunisia, Palestine and Yemen to monitor the process and share experiences in order to have the initiative implemented in other Arab countries.

CIHRS intends to issue two progress reports on the monitoring process. This is in addition to a final report to be issued after the conclusion of presidential elections including an overall evaluation of media performance in elections and an analysis of the political and legislative environment in which the Egyptian media works. To achieve this goal, the CIHRS has organized an intensive training course since the 5th of August for 15 monitors who would undertake this mission. Training will go on until the day proceeding official launching of electoral propaganda to secure the quality and neutrality of monitoring. It is worth mentioning that CIHRS is a member of the Egyptian Civil Society Coalition for Monitoring Parliamentarian and Presidential Elections which is coordinated by the Egyptian organisation for Human Rights.

For further information please contact Moataz El Fegiery, CIHRS programs coordinator

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