The Council of Ministers has decided not to open the door to appointing new journalists, employees, or
workers in any national press establishment (state-owned), and to prevent contracts, as well as
preventing the extension of the pension age, except in cases of extreme necessity and only for senior
writers and when the decision is coordinated with the National Press Authority.
That decision means that the chairman of any press institution will not be able to appoint any journalist,
employee, or worker even in cases of extreme necessity, except after the National Press Authority
approves the appointment.
This came during a meeting held by Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly to discuss and review the plan to
develop and modernise national press institutions, in the presence of Mohamed Maait, Minister of
Finance, Osama Heykal, Minister of State for Information, Karam Jabr, Chairman of the National Press
Authority, and heads of boards of directors of national press institutions and editors-in-chief.
Madbouly ordered work to settle the debts of these institutions by exploiting a number of untapped
assets owned by these newspapers, as well as studying the position of all publications and taking a
decisive position on them.
During the meeting, the Prime Minister called for the immediate implementation of the reform and
development plan, with a specific timetable, with the need to work to rationalise and govern spending.
He also called for starting to implement the proposed solutions courageously, warning against the
continuation of the situation as it is.
The Prime Minister reaffirmed the continued support of the state for national press institutions,
provided that these institutions continue to achieve the purpose of their establishment, which is to
contribute to increasing enlightenment, awareness, and the formation of correct thought and awareness.
Observers point out that state-owned national press institutions suffer heavy losses, and depend on the
Egyptian Ministry of Finance to provide their expenses and the salaries of their employees.
But the latest measures alluded to the possibility of closing a number of newspapers or merging with
In the first comment from the Press Syndicate on these decisions, a member of the Press Syndicate,
Mahmoud Kamel, expressed his dissatisfaction with the cabinet statement. Kamel described the
statement of “the plan to develop and modernise national press institutions,” as “disastrous.”
He posted on his personal Facebook page that this statement obligates holding an emergency meeting of
the Press Syndicate Council and the issuance of an urgent statement to respond to it.
He explained the reasons for his objection were that they excluded the Press Syndicate and its elected
council, the only legitimate representative of the General Assembly for journalists, from attending the
meeting and expressing an opinion.
He also indicated that the decision not to renew journalists’ licenses after the pension age violates the
demands of successive general assemblies of the union, and confirmed that some of the people who
attended the meeting exceeded the pension age. He said authorities do not realise the nature of
journalistic work and ignore the demands of the pioneers in the profession and their role in transferring
experiences to new generations.
He also stressed that the decision to stop appointments reveals that those who attended the meeting are
not familiar with the labour law, which is unacceptable and illegal and represents a blatant attack on the
rights of colleagues who have been practicing the profession for years in these newspapers.
Kamel said that the hint that paper versions will be converted to electronic websites to reduce printing
expenses is not a solution to the national newspaper crisis. He explained that the crisis lies in the
content, which is not attractive to readers, as well as in choosing chief editors who the regime trusts,
rather than experienced and talented editors.
In agreement with him, Amr Badr, Assistant Secretary-General of the Syndicate of Journalists and
Chairman of the Syndicate of Liberties Syndicate, said that these decisions are a disaster.
He pointed out that the Bar Council will discuss the matter and issue an urgent statement in this regard,
within hours, to ensure the right of colleagues and the application of the law.
He considered that this decision is strange, and was taken without considering the syndicate’s opinion,
stressing that the syndicate council will stand alongside a number of colleagues and support their
position and their right to appointment, especially as they spent many years working within national
institutions in the hope of appointment, which is an inherent right for them, guaranteed by law.
He also indicated that the statement revealed an intention to merge the newspapers or liquidate the
institutions without referring to the union, which was refused by the General Assembly last March, and
recommended that the syndicate council not take any decision regarding liquidation or merging without
referring to it.
Badr stressed that “the absence of the Syndicate of Journalists is a catastrophe as if these institutions are
just walls, not run by thousands of journalists who are represented by the syndicate to protect their
Badr stressed that the syndicate council members communicated, and will issue an urgent and clarifying
statement, about the need to listen to journalists’ fears and opinions before making any decisions.
These austerity measures raise journalists’ fear that it will be a way for the regime to gain more control
over the press.
Opponents accuse the Egyptian regime of restricting the freedom of the press leading to the collapse of
newspaper sales. But the regime, instead of giving more space to the press, tightened its control further
and imposed tighter censorship.