Troops Monitoring Output but Not Interfering So Far With Content
News crews throughout the world scrambled in the fast-moving chain of events in Egypt as the military overthrew the administration of Mohamed Morsi, replacing the president with the chief justice of the constitutional court, Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.
In an announcement telecast live, the general promised a new election, without specifying a date. While protesters celebrated, newsies predicted a backlash from Morsi supporters. The moves came a few hours after the military took control of state broadcaster Egyptian Television Network.
Armored vehicles surrounded the pubcaster’s central Cairo studios, with officers from the army’s media unit inside the newsroom monitoring output, though not yet interfering, the Associated Press reported.
Egypt’s pubcaster, traditionally a government mouthpiece, is run by a Muslim Brotherhood member put in the post by Morsi. Accordingly, its coverage until now has been largely pro-government. But over the past couple of days, its news has become more balanced showing protesters in the streets staging anti-Morsi demonstrations along with pro-Morsi ones.
Morsi, who continues to vow he will not step down even as the military appears to be taking over, had been increasingly trying to gag the media ever since being elected a year ago.
The most recent manifestation of that occurred last week when authorities prevented media entrepreneur Mohamed al-Amin from leaving the country in apparent retaliation for his CBC channel taking shots at the president on its satirical show “Al Bernameg” (The Programme), modeled on the U.S. “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.” Stewart himself on June 22 appeared on the show, making his entry in the studio with a black hood over his head, introduced by presenter Bassem Youssef as a captured foreign spy.
The hugely popular Youssef had been recently questioned and briefly detained by prosecutors on charges of blasphemy and insulting the president.
Another broadcaster recently under threat for not toeing the Muslim Brotherhood line is independent satellite broadcaster ONTV, owned by Franco-Tunisian entrepreneur Tarak Ben Ammar. On Wednesday its live stream showed millions in Tahrir Square chanting against Morsi.
On the film side, it’s still unclear what the effect of the military taking over could be.
In March 2012 the ministry of culture’s development fund reopened and announced the first list of 12 projects that made the cut for coin since the 2011 revolution. That crucial production coin was in the process of being disbursed when the current turmoil began to mount.