The Egyptian independent newspaper al-Masry al-Youm has published what it claims is a draft of a proposed law governing the Egyptian media prepared by the ruling National Democratic Party (full text of the draft law here) to be submitted at the beginning of the next Parliamentary session. Editor in Chief Magdy al-Galad declares the draft law an attempt to slaughter every form of media from satellite TV to Facebook. If the published draft text is accurate, it's easy to see why.
The draft law would establish a new national agency to issue all broadcast licenses, and to regulate and censor all forms of broadcast media. It defines broadcast media very broadly to include the internet and all other forms of communicating text, video or audio. It also defines prohibited content incredibly broadly, as anything which negatively affects social peace, national unity, the principle of citizenship, public order or public ethics. In short, the proposal would grant the Egyptian government near-totalitarian control over all forms of media. It would effectively destroy any serious politically independent media, putting an end to the only remaining area where anyone can find hope in the Egyptian political system (it's relatively contentious press and its internet activists). And to top it off, according to Galad, media coverage of the proposed Agency's activities would itself be banned.
Hopefully, the publication of the draft law will provoke sufficient outcry to prevent it from going forward. But that is not the lesson of recent Egyptian politics. We're clearly not going back to those long-past days (three years ago!) when Condoleeza Rice called for democracy at the American University of Cairo. But this might be a good time for Ambassador Scobey to suggest that American allies receiving massive amounts of financial assistance should not be in the business of establishing near-totalitarian controls over the media.