Dubai: Egypt’s Supreme Council for Media Regulation, a state-appointed watchdog, has set a fine of 250,000 Egyptian pounds (about $14,000) for every offensive word uttered in TV series aired during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan .

The unprecedented penalty, which is hefty by Egyptian standards, was announced before Ramadan when star-studded soap operas are usually shown on television and generate high viewing in Egypt.

In recent years, there have been a lot of complaints in Egypt about violent scenes and vulgarity on TV shows.

The council, led by veteran writer Makram Mohammad, has threatened to take off air the series “Foq Al Sahab” (Above the Clouds) over scenes featuring drug use.

According to Al Arabiya, “Foq Al Sahab” contained “shocking” scenes where a father buys drugs and invites his son to try them with him.

In another scene, the lead character visits a mosque while he is drunk.

The council has sent warning notices to the show’s producer and television stations showing the series, requesting them to remove scenes related to drugs and smoking from the rest of episodes.

According to the council’s disciplinary regulations, shows violating its rules will be blocked in case of non-compliance.

In total, the body has set 19 criteria for what constitutes an offence, including the use of vulgarities, glorification of crime and bullying, distorting women’s image,” and insulting “sisterly” countries.

Media freedom advocates have voiced concerns about the rules, saying they could restrict free expression.

-Hams Saleh is an intern at Gulf News