CAIRO: The dispute between the Orbit Satellite Television network and the Egyptian government-owned Media Production City has been resolved after the former paid $5.74 million to Media Production City, according to the official website of Orbit’s top talk show.
Live shows broadcasted from Orbit’s studios in Cairo will resume Saturday, ending what has been a week-long television production halt for Orbit. Included in this production halt was news anchor Amr Adib’s popular talk show "Al-Qahera Al-Youm."
Last Saturday, Media Production City ordered that Orbit offices and studios be shutdown due to the television network’s failure to meet all of its financial obligations.
In a press statement on Sunday, a Media Production City spokesman said that Orbit had failed to make its required payments for various services, either by paying late, by issuing bouncing checks, or by simply not paying.
These actions, according to Media Production City, spurred them to take action against Orbit, including cutting off their electricity. And after having given Orbit four warnings — the last of which was delivered on Sept. 13 — Media Production City exercised their right to annul their production contract.
When contacted by Daily News Egypt, Orbit officials weren’t available for comment. However, in press statements, officials from the television network insisted that all payments for Media Production City were ready and available, but that — for one reason or another — the production company refused to accept the payment and to allow Orbit to resume operation.
“We told them we issued checks for LE 5 million, which cover our dues as of Sept. 8, but [Media Production City] refused to take them,” Orbit Financial Manager, Felix Sarhan, told independent daily Al Masry Al Youm. “This is not a problem between two companies. I believe there is a higher authority behind the scenes.”
When Orbit’s studios were shutdown last Saturday, many shared Sarhan’s belief, speculating that there may have been a political motive behind the action. "Al-Qahera Al-Youm" host Adib is known for his outspoken views and heavy criticism of the government. When taking into consideration that parliamentary elections are growing ever closer, and that Adib is especially known for openly criticizing prominent figures in Egypt’s ruling National Democratic Party (such as steel mogul and NDP leader Ahmed Ezz), the recent problems aroused some suspicion.
However, the government-owned daily Al Ahram quoted Thursday a source at Orbit saying that “there are no political motives” behind the actions taken by Media Production City. The source told the state-run paper that the financial dispute would be resolved soon. The source specified that Orbit wrote 30 checks worth a total of $5.74 million, and that it will resume studio operations starting next week.
The official website for “Al Qahera Al Youm" announced that Orbit’s studios have been returned — albeit without electricity — and that live shows will resume Saturday.
The website also linked to Adib’s Facebook page, where they have launched a campaign called “Against Banning Al Qahera Al Youm.” The campaign, according to the Facebook page, is aiming to accumulate letters and petitions that will be forwarded to the Chairman of Media Production City and to Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif.
Many of Adib’s fans are furious that their favorite show has been taken off the airwaves for a week. One Adib fan says that the show was stopped by the government for “no apparent reason," and that "they are making up anything just to make [Adib] silent.”
This is not the first public dispute between Orbit Satellite Television and Media Production City. In December 2009, officials at Media Production City ordered that the Orbit studio and offices on its premises be shutdown, saying that the Orbit network was LE 15 million in debt to the company and that it had not heeded any of the official warnings Media Production City had given.
Despite the campaign, President Hosni Mubarak has intervened to keep "Al-Qahera Al-Youm" on the air.