Egypt/ 4.2 Recent policy issues and debates  

4.2.6 Media pluralism and content diversity

This topic may be tackled on three levels:

Government level: State-owned media: radio, TV and national newspapers (see chapter 5).

Local level: Private satellite channels owned by businessmen and newspapers owned by private owners and political parties.

A number of channels owned by businessmen such as Al BALAD, OTV, CAIRO, AL NAAS, DREAM, etc. broadcast drama series, news, cultural programs in the fields of history and antiquities, talk shows and sport programs. These and other satellite channels attract a large audience in the country at the expense of state TV, which lacks modernization and vitality, whether in terms of programs of the people in charge.

International level: All satellite channels from all over the world. These channels helped in building cultural bridges between different countries and the Egyptian society, which filled the vacuum caused by the deteriorating state media. Syrian drama and foreign movies are very popular, in addition to the various news networks that have high quality technological and human capabilities. On the other hand, the standard of Egyptian TV hosts and announcers in terms of Arabic language and general knowledge has dropped and programs became very superficial as a result of favoritism in appointments regardless of education and knowledge, not to mention the lack of basic requirements by announcers, creators and directors of TV programs.

Sport channel attract the largest number of viewers in Egypt since football is the No 1 sport in the country resulting in a situation where the Egyptian popular culture consists of two elements only: sport and religion.

Media pluralism did not have an effect on the content which became hollow expressing only the political propaganda of the regime.

But after the revolution, a large number of satellite channels has emerged, according to a report from center of information, presented to the cabinet in April 2013, the investments of more than 426 million Egyptian pounds, spread over more than 30 private channel.

This expansion in satellite channels has led to huge demand for experienced media personnel which was not available when needed, as a result a large number of unaffiliated or qualified media brought to the these channels , resulting in an inevitable degenerated methods and accusations on the media scene , and the spread of radical and the conflicted messages.

This chaos has led to some judicial decisions and fines against number of journalists and their guests, such as Tawfiq Okasha, Jihan Mansour, Essam el-Erian, Abdullah al- Badr and Mahmoud Shaban, along with an investigation with a large number of journalists and their guests on charges of contempt of religion and insulting the president and disturb public order, such as Basem Yusuf and program’s team, and Ali Kandil, and others..

It is worth mentioning that the number of Egyptian satellite channels is still subject to increase in future due to huge differences in ideological and political views, and that the media presented a perfect stage to make statements as well as accusations against competitors.

After June 30 the Egyptian authorities shut down religious television channels supporting the Muslim Brotherhood’s regime right after the statement made on 3 July 3. The importance of media was given more weight and on 3 September  2014 the Administrative Judicial Court issued a ruling to ban the broadcasting of Aljazeera Live TV channel under the pretext of violating professional media standards of objectivity according to prosecution number 50297 for year ’65. The same judicial branch forced the administration of the NileSat satellite to stop broadcasting the Rabia TV channel due to its affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood (the channel in fact was launched by the Brotherhood).

According to Aljazeera agencies in May 2014, Aljazeera Egypt’s chief in Cairo, Abdel Fattah Fayed, confirmed that more than twenty journalists working at Aljazeera offices in Egypt had reports filed against them and in some cases were facing lawsuits to have their nationality taken away.    

In a report published during the occasion of World Press Freedoms day on 3 May  2014, the Egyptian Monitor for Rights and Freedoms stated that press freedoms in Egypt as “moribund” and that journalists are either killed, injured or detained.

According to the report the amount of violations was a first in Egyptian history, reaching to 113 violations including the murder of eight journalists and physical assault against 52 journalists as well as the detainment of another 35,some of whom are being tried for fabricated criminal charges, in addition to shutting down eight private and independent TV channels.

As for the report by the Support for Information Technology Center published on 8 May, the following table shows violations carried out against journalists and media organizations throughout 2013:

 

Month

Violations against journalists

Violations against media organizations

January

37

13

February

25

5

March

71

3

April

34

1

May

14

 

June

40

4

lyJu

47

18

August

102

9

September

28

8

October

32

1

November

71

 

December

80

1

Total

581

63

 

In addition to this report, the Arab Network for Human Rights Information documented in its report published on September 20 2014, violations against rights of journalists and columnists such as confiscation, detention, physical beating and killing under the title: “Freedom of expression during Sisi’s government’s first 100 days”.   


Chapter published: 01-04-2016


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