Maspero chief: “Red lines” should never exist at state TV

Al-Masry Al-Youm sits down with Egyptian Radio and Television Union chief, Essam al-Amir.

Al-Masry Al-Youm: What were you were first decisions at Maspero?

Essam al-Amir: The most important thing for me in Maspero is restoring the splendor of Egyptian TV and radio as it always used to be among other channels, so that the audience will feel that state TV shows events with integrity and credibility.

AMAY: How was your meeting with the information minister, Dorreya Sharaf Eddin?

Amir: I am very happy and optimistic about working with Information Minister Dorreya Sharaf Eddin. I believe she has very ambitious plans. I also feel like we are in harmony. I respect all her decisions. I met her more than once, although I’ve been in Maspero for a few days now. She meets with me more than twice a day, which gives me hope.

AMAY: The information minister referred several violations to the legal affairs department. Have you checked up on these issues?

Amir: No, I haven't. However, i accurately follow up on all issues. I will never be reluctant in referring any violation to the legal affairs to be investigated.

AMAY: Illegal appointments of members affiliated to the former regime was brought up recently. What are you going to do about this?

Amir: Everything will be reviewed reasonably. Appointments in Maspero will be questioned. Everything will become clear through law and investigations. We should first count the real number, without following rumours.

AMAY: Will there be list of names prevented from appearing on state TV as has happened in the past?

Amir: It’s all people’s TV. No Egyptian will be banned from coming on his country’s TV, whether he is a liberal, Muslim Brotherhood member or from any other faction. It’s Egypt’s TV and it will always be for all Egyptians. The word "red line" should be rejected. It will never exist at state TV.

However, for every session, there is discussion. We shouldn’t review issues just to cause trouble or host someone who will bring that. I hope that Egyptian television can adopt issues that aim to restore morals and good behaviour. We don't want a guest on who attacks others in an inappropriate way. Difference is not forbidden.

AMAY: How will you handle the salaries issue at Maspero?

Amir: No one will be financially harmed. There shouldn’t be fears of not providing wages. It will never happen and I guarantee this. However, in the long run, there should be a system that maintains workers' rights. It’s unreasonable that those who work and others who don't work be equal. There will be one standard. No one will get more than his colleague if both are doing the same job. There will be equality in salaries in all Maspero sectors. There will be no difference between a director working in a TV sector and another one working in a news sector. However, creative people will also have their rights.

We will also work on outside-the-box solutions for production problems. We will cooperate with external production authorities to offer production for state TV. We will also look for sponsors for new and huge productions. All ideas are being proposed. I will not allow complications to hinder cooperation with anyone outside Maspero. Anyone from outside is welcome, so long as he will benefit the organization.

I also confirm that cooperation is open for all authorities and sponsors, so long as it will take place within the legal framework for the sake of state TV. I believe this will give us a good product and hence resolve commercial issues, as the advertiser looks for products with high audience figures.

AMAY: How will you resolve the issue of broadcasting vehicles kept in Rabea al-Adaweya Square?

Amir: I'm following this issue. I expect them to be returned soon with no damages after the end of the sit-in.

AMAY: Will there be any reshuffle within Maspero?

Amir: I don’t like to discuss these decisions, unless there have been decisions taken. I don’t like to distract workers. All I hope is that everyone works and collaborates with each other to get the state TV back to its former state.

AMAY: You resigned when you were chief of the TV sector. Would you accept this position under the Brotherhood's rule?

Amir: I resigned in protest against Brotherhood attempts to run the media. By then I was head of the sector. It's hard for anyone to leave that kind of position, unless he is sure he cannot push through his vision. Therefore, I submitted my resignation in protest against general policies at Maspero. However, I'm sure TV will return to quality under Sharaf Eddin. I don't reject work for the sake of the Egyptian people, but I reject policies that can harm them.

AMAY: Are there any plans to cancel sectors, channels or restructure the Information Ministry within the coming period?

Amir: I haven't tackled that yet. So far there are no plans to cancel anything at Maspero. Regarding restructuring, I didn't discuss this with the minister or any other official. What I'm pre-occupied with most at the moment is restoring the strength of state TV and preserving the rights of its workers.

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