CAIRO: A ray of light breaks through a dark screen to concentrate on a group of people representing the Egyptian society. Then the ON TV promo ends with a scene of a man trying to sleep while the logo of the channel appears above his alarm clock.
The advertisement of the channel whose slogan is “stay in the light, reflects its objectives of spreading liberalism and reviving the Egyptian identity.
“ON TV is a liberal channel that focuses on reviving the Egyptian identity and the values of citizenship, freedom, equality, modernization, rationality and expresses all these values through its slogan , ‘stay in the light’, Emad Gad, head of the channel told Daily News Egypt.
The channel is owned by businessman Naguib Sawiris, who also owns OTV.
Gad stressed that the channel’s objective is to revive the liberal stream that was the main political stream in Egypt before the 1952 revolution.
“Liberals aren’t a minority in Egyptian society but they are scattered and one of our objectives is to re-unite them, Gad said
The channel kicked off on Oct. 6 at 2 pm, by broadcasting a seven-hour program about the October War Presented by Abdel Moneim Saied, one of Egypt s leading liberals.
According to Gad the channel will broadcast four hours a day and is expected to start broadcasting 24 hours a day starting next year.
In response to questions on whether it was established to stand against different ideologies, especially the fundmantalist stream, Gad said ON TV isn’t directed against anyone. “But it is logical that its pro freedom and democracy message may conflict with other streams; enlightenment and rationality are against darkness and superstitious ideologies, and a state of law conflicts with a society ruled by customs, he explained.
He added that the channel doesn’t aim to stand for Egypt’s Copts as a religious group but as a liberal channel it defends citizenship rights and equality for all Egyptians disregarding religion or race.
“We would defend Copts, Bahaais, Shias or any other group whose citizenship rights are abused, Gad said.
The field of satellite channels has witnessed intense competition over the past year whether on the local or regional level. There’s a growing tendency by political streams to establish their own channels to express their points of view.
Recently, what is known as the nationalist stream launched El Saa’a channel, which is funded by a group of Egyptian and Libyan businessmen.
Western countries entered the race this year after several Arabic-speaking western channels were launched like BBC Arabic, Russia today, France 24, Euro news, Israel 2 and Deutchwelle as well as El Horra channel, which is funded by the American government.
CNN also plans to launch an Arabic speaking channel next year.
American University in Cairo Professor Mona Makram Ebeid welcomed the idea of the channel, saying that it would have a great role in reuniting the liberal stream in Egypt.
“Liberalism has been maimed and misunderstood by the public by tying it with imperialism. The channel came at the right time because the liberal stream is lost although it possesses an ideology that works for the future rather than the past like other current political streams, Ebeid told Daily News Egypt.
“The Nasserite Party looks back to Abdel Nasser’s ideology, El Wafd Party wants to revive the pre-revolution glory, she added.
“This channel can even encourage new liberal parties to be formed with a moderate liberal ideology.
This comes at the same time the state-owned channels are trying to restore their media leadership by re-launching the Nile channels, with new names and new formats. These include Nile Live, Nile Drama, Nile Sport and Nile Cinema.
Out of 530 Arab channels, there are 31 Egyptian state-owned and 12 privately-owned channels.
“Studies point out that private channels’ viewing rates are high compared to their state-owned counterparts, Samy El Sherif, head of Radio and TV Department at the faculty of Mass Communication, Cairo University, told Daily News Egypt.
“Private channels whether in Egypt or in Arab countries have two advantages: more freedom in discussing ongoing issues and more financial resources, which allow broader coverage, El Sherif saidHe explained that the state-run media all over the world is vanishing while private media is flourishing. “The alternative is state media which represents all sectors of society, he added.