CAIRO: President Hosni Mubarak has intervened in a dispute between Orbit Satellite Television and the Egyptian state-owned Media Production City, to keep anchor Amr Adib’s notoriously critical talk show “Al-Qahera Al-Youm on air.
On Saturday, officials at Media Production City ordered shut the offices and studios of Orbit located on its premises, saying that the network owes it LE 15 million in debt and that it has not heeded the many official warnings sent to it.
“There are problems between Media Production City and Orbit. Who is right and who is wrong is not the issue, but someone took advantage of the situation to silence our voices. But chivalry and courage were displayed when a man named Mohamed Hosni Mubarak stepped in this trivial matter compared to others, and said ‘these people can’t be silenced, they have to keep on talking,’ Adib said in the opening on his show Saturday night.
Adib is known for his outspoken views and heavy criticism of the government as well as prominent figures in Egypt’s ruling National Democratic Party, such as steel mogul Ahmed Ezz.
“Just as they will say that no newspaper was banned during Mubarak’s reign, they will also say that no talk show was banned during his reign, Adib said.
Fans of the show called in throughout its three-hour duration to express their gratitude for Mubarak and his protection for freedom of the media.
A video of the host’s gratitude to Mubarak is posted on the show’s official website under the title “Mubarak saves Al-Qahera Al-Youm.
Viewers’ comments, however, diverged with some skepticism over the whole affair.
In its Sunday edition, independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm speculated that threats to shut Orbit down were related to an episode on Adib’s show criticizing Egypt’s construction of a metal barrier along its Rafah border with Gaza.
The state-owned news portal egynews.net, said that Mubarak’s intervention allowed the broadcast of the show “which is known for its heavy criticism to the policies of the Egyptian government.
This past July, Orbit Satellite Television and Radio Network, a pan-Arab satellite broadcasting network, merged with satellite television network Showtime, creating a single pay-TV giant.
When contacted by Daily News Egypt, no one was available for comment at their offices.
This is not the first time for Mubarak to allegedly stand by his opposition.
In October 2008 the president, in an official decree, pardoned Al-Dostour Editor Ibrahim Eissa from serving a two-month jail sentence for “publishing false information of a nature to disturb public order or security.