Those who fail to comply will have their accounts and websites shut down as well as up to Dh5,000 fine.

Social media influencers and all unlicensed online media agencies or enterprises have been told to register this month to avoid being fined.

Influencers and online media sites are required to obtain an e-media licence, with a starting price of Dh15,000 and a trade licence, which varies in cost depending on free zone or mainland category, according to the National Media Council (NMC).

During a roundtable discussion with the media on Tuesday, the NMC said that online news websites, influencers and other electronic publishers should utilise the remaining weeks of May to register and get e-media licences to operate smoothly and avoid problems.

The NMC had in March issued new rules that require all news websites, electronic publishing outlets, and on-demand printing, including commercial activities conducted through social media within the UAE to first get a media licence from the NMC, allowing them to operate in the country.

Social media influencers making advertisements and promoting brands for cash are also required to have and trade licence before registering with the NMC for an e-media licence.

Influencers and other e-media businesses had been given three months, which will expire in the first week of June, to apply on the NMC’s website and get an e-media licence.

Those who fail to comply with the new rules will have their social media accounts and related websites or blogs shut down, as well as being slapped with fines of up to Dh5,000.

“We urge all electronic media agencies and influencers to register before the expiration of the grace period to avoid fines or being inconvenienced,” Dr Rashid Al Nuaimi, executive director of Media Affairs at the NMC, said on Tuesday.

“It is good that a reasonable number of online firms and social media influencers have already applied for the e-licences.

“The new guidelines seek to enhance the contribution of electronic media to the wider publishing industry, providing legal protection for the outlets and enhancing their competitiveness, all in an effort to increase advertising spend and grow the sector as a whole.”

The regulations apply to all electronic media activities carried out within the UAE, including those in free zones.

According to Al Nuaimi, the new rules apply to only social media influencers that use their blogs, pages or accounts for advertising and promoting brands for money.

“People using social media shouldn’t be confused by the rules. The licence only applies to those using social media to do business, including influencers advertising and promoting brands after being paid cash,” he said.

Al Nuaimi noted that the new rules may also attract those social media influencers who haven’t been in the business of promoting brands, to acquire an e-licence and start doing business through charging people or firms wanting to sell their products or brands to their followers through ads.

The NMC earlier said that the regulations seek to help the UAE media sector remain on top of the rapid developments in electronic media, in addition to enriching and organising digital content, and ensuring that media material respects the religious, cultural and social values ??of the UAE, all the while promoting freedom of expression and constructive dialogue.

ismail@khaleejtimes.com 

Source :  The Khaleej Times

 

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