Rights groups condemn block on licences for new satellite TV channels

Rights groups have condemned the Egyptian government's decision to place a temporary block on the granting of licences to new satellite TV channels.

The government's decision was announced on Wednesday after a joint meeting between the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the cabinet, and included provisions for the tightening of censorship of channels identified as igniting sedition.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) called on the SCAF and the cabinet to reconsider the decision, which it called an attack on freedom of expression and the right of information exchange.

Hafez abu Sei’da, director of the EOHR, said in the statement that the decision is a return to the practices of the former regime. He said that the wording of the government's decision was illegal since it didn’t give clear definitions of "sedition", "censorship" and the measures that could be taken by authorities.

Freedom of expression and the right to exchange information are guaranteed for everyone according to the constitutional declaration and international standards of human rights, Abu Sei’da added.

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