CAIRO: By next March, popular Channel 2 talk show “El-Beit Beitak will no longer be gracing Egyptian living-rooms, as producers have recently announced that the show’s six-year run will come to an end.
“The program’s contract ends in February and is renewable every year, Soheir Gouda, deputy producer of “El-Beit Beitak told Daily News Egypt, highlighting that state TV will not renew.
The show first aired in October 2004 in the TV extravaganza month of Ramadan, and immediately gained popularity. It is produced by a private sector company called Baraka Designs, owned by Mahmoud Baraka, who offered it to Egyptian state television.
But the axed show doesn’t mean that “El-Beit Beitak’s hosts won’t be appearing every night. Independent newspaper Al-Shorouk recently reported that Minister of Information Anas El-Fiqqi met with two of the show’s anchors, Tamer Amin and Khairy Ramadan, to inform them that they are going to host another program produced by “Sout El-Qahira.
Claiming “El-Beit Beitak’s rights
In 2005, media tycoon Ehab Talaat, El-Beit Beitak’s former promoter, fled to London escaping charges brought against him by Al-Ahram Institution, the Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU) as well as other companies, that he owed them LE 10 billion.
Shortly after, Talaat reappeared claiming his rights of ownership of the program and filed a lawsuit against Baraka. An international arbitrator’s verdict gave the show’s copy rights to Baraka Designs, but ruled that LE 10 million in compensation is to be paid to Talaat.
“We are one of the many problems Ehab [Talaat] had at the time, Baraka said, adding that it is in fact the company that needs to claim its rights from Talaat.
“[Talaat] filed cases in many Egyptian courts which have been refused, he then raised a case to the general prosecutor, which was also refused and then he contacted the international arbitrator, whose verdict I am appealing as I have evidence against Talaat, Baraka explained.
“ERTU decided that it is best for the program not to continue, despite the verdict, said a source on condition of anonymity because it was not authorized to speak to the media.
Egyptian television claimed that the program made a LE 6 million loss last Ramadan despite the fact that it brings in 40 percent of the channel’s revenues.
However, some attribute the decision to axe the show to internal politics. A few months ago, Sout El-Qahira allegedly asked Baraka to sell his program to them but he refused, arguing that he cannot give up his copy rights, and explaining the illegality of the situation.
Sources from “El Beit Beitak that declined to have their names published because they were not authorized to speak to the media said that state TV had earlier terminated a deal with the company in charge of El-Beit Beitak marketing.
Baraka, however, said that it is difficult to tell if the decision not to renew “El-Beit Beitak’s contract is associated with the introduction of the new show.
On the other hand, Mohamed Hani, the executive producer of “El-Beit Beitak, denied the rumors. “It’s important to distinguish between the termination of “El-Beit Beitak and launching another program, he told Daily News Egypt.
Hani explained that the idea of hiring one program’s anchors to host another program is not unusual. However, he stressed that convincing the audience that it is the same show under a different name would be deceptive.
The Voice of Cairo
According to Al-Shorouk newspaper, “El-Beit Beitak’s host Amin immediately agreed to the new offer, while Ramadan asked for some time to study the contract.
The report also claimed that Saad had already signed an agreement with Sout El-Qahira over a month ago, casting doubt on whether he had prior knowledge of the decision to terminate “El-Beit Beitak’s contract.
But Baraka said that Saad is a national icon and does not need to explain his actions. “We really need to respect media ethics, he said.
Hani, however, refused to work on the new show. “I announced my opinion about moving to another program, Hani told Daily News Egypt, “El-Beit Beitak is where my ambitions and goals are. I contributed to the growth of this program.
“I built a certain program and I won’t settle for another. Even if others agreed, this is not something I want, he continued. “I won’t cooperate with any producer; Baraka is the inventor of this brand and he is not just a producer, he contributed to the birth of this program.