By Deena Wahba
Presenters at state-owned station Radio Misr released a statement Tuesday objecting to what they called “the repeated [political] interference” in their work, stating that they would defend their “right to provide an objective, impartial and professional coverage of the crucial events that the country is experiencing.”
The statement added, “We are being subjected to intense pressures [which] prevent us from accomplishing this duty; hence we dissociate ourselves from any directed, incomplete or not transparent news that is broadcasted via our radio.”
Radio presenter Sarah Abdel Bary said in a Sunday airing of her programme “from the heart of Cairo” that the presidency had interfered in the station’s programming, imposing guests and topics to serve particular political goals.
Mohamed Hassan El-Banna, editor in chief of state-owned newspaper Al-Akhbar, announced his resignation on Tuesday in protest of the interference of certain Muslim Brotherhood figures in the editorial policy of the newspaper.
El-Banna stated in his article on Tuesday that “Egyptian journalism is going through one of the worst periods ever,” adding, “I [present] today my resignation from the position of editor in chief, rejecting any exerted pressures from anyone, particularly those who belong to the Muslim Brotherhood.”
He concluded by addressing President Mohamed Morsi directly. “You are the legitimate president of the country, and in order to continue, you need to cleanse the country of the hypocrites and liars around you,“ he wrote. “You need to keep the presidency away from the Muslim Brotherhood.”
According to Reuters, the chairman of the culture, media and tourism committee in the Shura Council and leader in the Freedom and Justice Party, Fathi Shehab El-Din, denied the accusations made by El-Banna regarding Brotherhood interference, saying, “we have never interfered in what the editors-in-chief write nor do we exert any pressures on them.”
Amer El-Wakeel, chief editor of bulletins in state-owned television, told TV presenter Reem Maged on Tuesday that workers at Maspero were ordered by someone called Ahmed Abdel Aziz, who claimed to be a representative from the presidency, to focus their coverage exclusively on the Islamist protestors at the Raba’ El-Adawia Mosque that took place last Friday.
El-Wakeel added that employees had attempted to lobby for coverage of other protests but were met with refusal from the representative, “particularly [when it came to] the anti-Morsi protests at the defence ministry.”
El-Wakeel told Maged that employees at Maspero had decided to collect signatures demanding the dismissal of the alleged presidential representative in order to preserve professionalism at the station.
Camerawoman at the Nile Specialised Channels sector, Hend El-Saeed, said that plans also existed “for a possible [demonstration] on 30 June outside Maspero.”
El-Saeed said that in addition to interferences, the station is also suffering from “economic neglect”, adding that employees “have to collect money from each other to keep programmes aired daily”
On 17 June, the head of the Maspero Broadcast Department accused radio host Bahaa Al-Malky of hosting an illegal movement on his programme and ordered the latter’s suspension after a figure from the Tamarod movement appeared on his Sunday broadcast.
In May, employees at the station had gone on strike to protest the sudden transfer of two of their colleagues, Chief Editor Shady Gamal and Editor Nasser Sanad, by Minister of Information Salah Abdel Maqsoud for what they called “punishment for allegedly insulting President Morsi.”