Private channels suspend transmission to protest to ministry policy

At 6:00 PM, an hour and a half before the start of the World Cup qualifying match between Egypt and Algeria, presidents of private channels decided to suspend transmission to express their rejection of the policies of the Minister of Information.

There have been conflicts over the past week regarding Egyptian television’s monopoly of the broadcasting rights to the match, as well as over the conditions imposed on private channels, most important of which were having commentary by Egyptian Television commentators and running Egyptian Television commercials.

The decision to suspend transmission came after lengthy meetings that brought together the boards of management of Al Hayat Television, Modern Sport, and Dream TV’s two channels. Instead of airing the match, the six channels displayed a fixed message with the Egyptian flag in the background and the logos of the channels.

The message read “Dear viewers, to object the policy of monopoly and suppression exercised by the Egyptian Minister of Information toward Egyptian satellite channels, we are suspending transmission during the period of the match. We would like to apologize profusely to the Egyptian viewer, hoping that the national team will qualify to the World Cup finals.”

The decision is the result of the minister’s policy, Walid Debes, head of the board of management of Modern Sport, told Al-Masry Al-Youm. "We waited to the last minute in the hope that the minister might show some understanding toward those channels which have placed their trust in him and made him speak in their name, but that didn’t happen."

“We were forced to do that after all negotiations failed," Debes said. "However, we had prepared very well for the match with a match analysis studio that hosted the most important soccer commentators: Mostafa Abdo, Ahmed Shoubeir and Medhat Shalaby.”

Thes other channels were not completely shut out of the coverage, according to Debes. "We covered the celebrations of Egyptian spectators, and this is what we care about most.” He also said that that the private channels are awaiting legal action by the Egyptian Radio and Television Union.

“You spent LE200 million in Ramadan and lost many more millions, so is the match going to make up for the loss?” wondered Debes addressing the minister.

"Since the Ministry of Information doesn’t care except about Egyptian Television and has forgotten its responsibilities toward private media, then we will refer the issue to the Ministry of Investment, which granted us the licenses to broadcast, in order to get our rights back," added Debes.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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