It is our understanding that Qatar’s ‘media’ law was enacted in 1979 under Law No. 8 of 1979 on the Press and Publication (otherwise known as the “Press Law”). The law extends only to press publications and has served to create an environment of self censorship. All press publications are subject to licensing, it being mandatory to obtain a written licence for their publication.

At present, the Press Law still governs the Qatar media. There has been recent discussion at government level about updating and replacing the old Press Law with a law that applies to radio, television and the internet. In 2009, the government proposed to unveil the new media law by the end of 2010. Whilst it is understood that a revised law covering print, broadcast and electronic media has been drafted and was released by the government in 2012, as of yet it appears that no replacement has been agreed upon.

The Press Law dates back to a time when the Ministry of Information was in place. In the mid 1990s, however, the Ministry of Information was abolished. A special authority, Qatar Radio and Television Authority, was established shortly afterwards (under Law No 11 of 1997) to manage media affairs.

It is understood that according to the draft of the proposed revised law, the authority to license and monitor the media will lie with Ministry of Arts, Heritage and Culture. The publications division within the Ministry will be responsible for the licensing of print media, while the communications section will be responsible for licensing electronic media.