Right-Wingers On Media’s Case

Like their U.S. and European pubcaster counterparts, Egypt’s TV and radio operations are coming under heavy fire by rightwing lawmakers. The chairman of the giant Egyptian Radio & Television Union, Amin Bassyouni, recently told Egypt’s Parliament that the ERTU’s seven TV channels and 12 radio stations broadcast a combined total of 20,079 hours of religious programs among them last year – but to little avail. It’s not enough for some legislators.

The Parliament’s Committee on Youth is asking for an even larger dose of religious and “morally upright” programs – especially on TV – as a means of countering what they say is a spread of religious extremism and alienation among youth.

The committee also called for abolishing “foreign TV serials and programs that inflame the young,” an apparent reference to such U.S. soaps as “Knots Landing” and “The Bold and the Beautiful.” These have proved great faves in Egypt but have been denounced by some clerics as “spreading vice and immorality.”

Another Parliamentary group, the Committee on Culture and Information, is demanding the establishment of a separate all-religion TV channel.

The ERTU already operates one all-religion radio station, “Mahatta el Koran el Karim” (Holy Koran Station), that broadcasts only Koran recitations and religious talkshows.

The Culture & Information Committee also complained about the “vulgarity” of many songs currently aired on Egypt’s national TV channels I and II and urged the ERTU to search out new singing and composing talent for its music and variety shows.

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