UAE Media Law Reform: The New Decree-Law and Regulatory Landscape 

January 9, 2024by Reshma Rose Jacob0
  • UAE’s recent enactment of a federal decree-law signifies a pivotal step towards regulating and nurturing a vibrant media landscape.

  • The comprehensive legislation extends ownership opportunities to both individuals and legal entities

  • The UAE Media Council will oversee various aspects including the classification of creative productions and issuance of permits

  • The decree outlines a 12-month adjustment period for individuals and media outlets to align their operations with its provisions

The UAE Government has recently introduced a federal decree-law to regulate media activities within the country. The primary objective of this legislative measure is to streamline and organize media operations in the UAE, thereby enhancing its reputation as a global media hub. The decree aims to foster an environment conducive to the growth and prosperity of the media sector and allows both individuals and legal entities to own media institutions and outlets, subject to well-defined regulations and conditions. The decree is applicable to individuals, organizations, media outlets, and media free zones.

Media Activities Framework

According to the new law, media activities encompass a comprehensive spectrum, ranging from the production, circulation, printing, and publishing of media content to inclusive domains such as audio, video, and digital broadcasting, whether offered at a cost or provided free of charge. The legislation focuses on the issuance and regulation of licenses and permits essential for the execution of these diverse media activities.

Moreover, the law systematically structures the roles and responsibilities of the UAE Media Council and local government entities tasked with overseeing and regulating media affairs. This holistic approach underscores the government’s commitment to fostering a well-organized and thriving media landscape within the country. According to the decree, all individuals and entities engaged in media operations within the UAE must adhere to the national standards governing media content.

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Roles and Responsibilities

The UAE Media Council plays a pivotal role in the regulation of cinematographic and creative productions by issuing permits for their screening. Additionally, the council defines classifications within the Media Content Rating System, encompassing various forms of creative works such as books, video games, and cinematic productions. Notably, the Council takes charge of determining age-appropriate audiences for media and entertainment content.

Furthermore, the Council regulates modern communication through platforms like social media and other contemporary technical means, whether at a cost or free of charge, .by issuing permits to individuals or entities engaged in providing advertising or media content.

The Council is granted the authority to conduct surveillance and inspections of individuals, outlets, and media institutions, including those situated within free zones. This multifaceted approach underscores the comprehensive regulatory framework established to maintain the integrity and compliance of media activities in the UAE.

IP Protection and Timeline Related to the New Decree-Law

The UAE Media Council, in collaboration with relevant authorities, is tasked with advancing the protection of intellectual property for individuals, establishments, and media institutions in the country. Furthermore, the decree outlines a 12-month adjustment period for individuals and media outlets governed by this law to align their operations with its provisions. The potential extension of this period is subject to a decision by the Cabinet, emphasizing a transitional timeframe for entities to adapt to the new regulatory framework.

In conclusion, the UAE’s recent enactment of a federal decree-law signifies a pivotal step towards regulating and nurturing a vibrant media landscape. With a keen focus on streamlining media operations, fostering growth, and bolstering the country’s global standing as a media hub, the comprehensive legislation extends ownership opportunities to both individuals and legal entities under well-defined regulations.

The involvement of the UAE Media Council, tasked with overseeing various aspects, including the classification of creative productions and issuance of permits for diverse media activities, underscores the government’s commitment to maintaining integrity and compliance within the industry.

Moreover, the decree’s emphasis on intellectual property protection and the provision of a structured timeline for adaptation further solidify the government’s dedication to a progressive and organized media sector in the UAE. The multifaceted approach outlined in the decree sets the stage for a dynamic and compliant media environment that aligns with the evolving landscape of modern communication and creative expression in the country.

About ATB Legal

ATB Legal is a full-service legal consultancy in the UAE providing services in dispute resolution (DIFC Courts, ADGM Courts, mainland litigation management and Arbitrations), corporate and commercial matters, IP, business set up and UAE taxation. We also have a personal law department providing advice on marriage, divorce and wills & estate planning for expats. Please feel free to reach out to us at office@atblegal.com for a non-obligatory initial consultation.

by Reshma Rose Jacob

Reshma is a legal consultant at ATB Legal. She is a law graduate from St. Joseph’s College of Law, Bangalore, and is enrolled with the Bar Council of Kerala.

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