×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Egypt’s Jon Stewart, Bassem Youssef, Will Be Back On Air, Vows Satcaster MBC (Exclusive)

Top Arab satcaster MBC on Tuesday vowed that Egyptian TV comic Bassem Youssef will be back on the air in Egypt “soon,” though not necessarily with his political satire show “Al-Bernameg” (The Program) which has been pulled amid mounting pressure in a clear sign of a crackdown on satire in Egypt.

Youssef, known as the Jon Stewart of the Arab world, called it quits in Cairo on Monday, in the aftermath of the landslide election won last week by former army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, now the country’s president, whom Youssef had mocked on the show, also urging him not to run.

On Tuesday MBC spokesman Mazen Hayek said the “contractual and professional” relationship between MBC and Bassem Youssef and his team remains in place with two or three specific projects. “We promise the audience that we will come back with Bassem and the Al-Bernameg team soon,” Hayek said.

“Whether it’s ‘Al-Bernameg,’ a different version, or something totally different. What shape or form, on what channel, it’s too early to tell,” he added.

As for what prompted the landmark show’s cancellation, Hayek said “we (MBC and Youssef) reached a stage of unsurmountable pressure from all sides on practically everyone involved in the production. However, as MBC we don’t blame any specific party for stopping ‘Al-Bernameg’.”

The MBC spokesman also denied media speculation that the Saudi-owned broadcaster may have bowed to pressure from the Saudi government, which has been among el-Sissi’s backers.

“I can go further by telling you Saudi Arabia has nothing to do with that decision,” Hayek said. “MBC Group is a privately owned company. We don’t fall under any official mandate from any government, including Saudi Arabia. The origin of the pressures were not Saudi.”

There is no evidence of Egypt’s newly elected president having a direct role in pushing Youssef off the air. Still, during the presidential campaign el-Sissi said he would not tolerate “offensive” criticism and would enforce an existing law against insulting the president.

The MBC spokesman said that ever since “Al-Bernameg” went back on air on MBC – after being cancelled by Egyptian broadcaster CBC under Islamist president Mohammad Morsi, also satirised by Youssef – MBC Egypt had never interfered with its content.

“We were receiving the episodes ready to air a couple of hours before the airing time,” Hayek said.

“Bassem and his team where the only people responsible for the content of ‘Al Bernameg,’ with our support because we carried whatever content they sent us to the screen.”

“We were broadcasting ‘Al-Bernameg’ in the face of all kinds of rumours, lawsuits, pressures, demonstrations near the studios where the show was shot, and jamming. We continued in spite of it all. But then it reached a stage where it couldn’t continue.”

Youssef, a former heart surgeon, gained popularity after the 2011 Egyptian revolution, first on YouTube and then on Egyptian TV channels ONTV and CBC where his ratings soared as he snarked at president Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood whose supporters took legal action. After Morsi was ousted in a military coup, his jokes and stinging skits became directed towards the country’s new military-backed powers against which there now seems to be even less leeway.

 

More TV

  • 'Death Stranding' is a 'Playground of

    'Death Stranding' is a 'Playground of Possibilities,' Will Make You Cry

    The Thursday evening conversation between game-making auteur Hideo Kojima and “Walking Dead” actor Norman Reedus about highly-anticipated PlayStation 4 game “Death Stranding” was filled with interesting anecdotes, but little in the way of hard fact. Instead, Kojima made a promise of sorts to the audience and seemingly fans everywhere waiting for more news on the [...]

  • Ariana Grande Olivia Munn Michael Che

    Celebrities vs. Critics: Why This Battle Has No Winners (Column)

    When actor Olivia Munn tweeted a “short essay on…ugly behaviors” late Wednesday night, she insisted that a blog had been unfairly maligning her for years. She wrote that she wanted to confront the idea that baseless critiques, particularly those aimed at women, are never okay no matter how famous the target may be. On the [...]

  • ‘Peaky Blinders’ Virtual Reality Game in

    ‘Peaky Blinders’ Virtual Reality Game Will Pitch Players Into the Action

    “Peaky Blinders” fans will be able to join the gang – virtually – in a new VR game that will allow players to interact with characters from the hit series. Start-up immersive studio Maze Theory teamed with the show’s producers and is making the game, which will launch in 2020. Artificial intelligence technology means characters [...]

  • TV News Roundup: HBO's 'Deadwood: The

    TV News Roundup: HBO Releases 'Deadwood: The Movie' Trailer

    In today’s TV news roundup, HBO released the trailer for the “Deadwood” film, and CNN announced a premiere date for “Apollo 11.”  DATES The documentary “Apollo 11” from director/producer Todd Douglas Miller will premiere on CNN Sunday, June 23 at 9 p.m. Using only archival sources, the film captures NASA’s 1969 Apollo 11 mission. FIRST [...]

  • shannon ryan

    Shannon Ryan Joins Disney TV, ABC as Marketing Chief

    Former Fox Television chief marketing officer Shannon Ryan has been tapped as the new president of marketing for ABC Entertainment and Disney Television Studios. The announcement was made by Karey Burke, president of ABC Entertainment, and Craig Hunegs, president of Disney Television Studios, to whom she will report. Rumours had been circling for a while [...]

  • Dan Lin's Rideback, MRC Announce Writers

    Dan Lin's Rideback, MRC Announce First Class of Writers and Mentors for TV Incubator

    Rideback, Dan Lin’s production company, and MRC have announced the inaugural class of writers and mentors for their TV incubator.  The new TV writers residency program, which was launched in February, offers a paid, eight-month residency program to a group of writers who have each previously been staffed on series and want to create their [...]

  • CBS Viacom

    CBS and Viacom Move Closer to Merger Talks

    The CBS Corp. board of directors is moving closer to initiating acquisition discussions with Viacom, according to multiple sources close to the situation. The move has been expected for months, although there may still be obstacles on the road to a reunion for the two sides of the Redstone media empire. Price could still be [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content