CAIRO: Egyptian security forces last Wednesday raided the headquarters of the Cairo News Company, which is in charge of transmitting live broadcasts from Egypt to news satellite channels, according to the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information in Cairo (HRInfo).
Security forces confiscated “five sets of live broadcasting equipment without providing any justification for the action, a HRInfo press statement sent to Daily News Egypt read.
The authorities also started an investigation into the company, which has been operating for four years without naming the offence allegedly committed, the press statement said.
According to Gamal Eid, director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, the crackdown is unjustified and unacceptable.
Eid told Daily News Egypt that this is meant to stop Arab satellite news channels’ live broadcasts in Egypt, especially Al-Jazeera. The Cairo News Company is considered one of the major companies offering live broadcasting equipment for rent and services to about 40 satellite channel bureaus in Egypt, including Al Jazeera, Dubai, Qatar and French TV.
Eid said that there are current negotiations between the company’s owners and security officials to resolve the matter.
He explained that the crackdown will mean that live news will no longer be available to the public, who will now resort to local Egyptian television’s “edited news broadcasts.
Eid also said that the attack comes on the heels of the Arab Broadcasting charter that was recently approved by most Arab Ministers of Communication and Information Technology to regulate the content of Arab satellite channels.
However, the document was not ratified by Lebanon and Qatar, home to Al Jazeera.
“Ever since the charter was approved, the Egyptian government has shut down three Egyptian satellite channels [Al Hiwar, Al Baraka, and Al Hikma] and now, the crackdown on the Cairo News Company, Eid said.
HRInfo called on the Egyptian government to give the equipment back and “to stop all forms of direct and indirect blocking of satellite broadcasting and the free flow of information. [HRInfo] has also asked the government to stop engaging in shameful practices.