Egypt’s Supreme Council for Media Regulation (SCMR) said it doesn’t have the power to impose sanctions on MBC Masr satellite channel following complaints about Ramez Galal’s prank show because it does not operate in Egypt.
The council, however, urged the channel to legalize its status in Egypt before August.
The SCMR issued a statement on Thursday on the controversy over the prank show Ramez Is Officially Crazy, broadcast on MBC Masr, and the numerous calls to stop airing it.
The council said it has no authority to impose sanctions or take measures against the channel if it violates the Egyptian media framework since it neither operates in Egypt's free media zone system nor is authorised by the SCMR.
MBC Masr is a Saudi channel owned by MBC group, with a foreign licence from the Dubai Creative Collectors Authority in the UAE and its headquarters is in Dubai Media City, the statement explained.
The channel’s broadcasting signal is transmitted from Dubai City to the foreign satellite Arabsat and the incoming signal is transmitted to the Egyptian satellite Nilesat via a domain leased to MBC, the statement added.
The council, however, warned that the channel has a six-month time-limit - starting from February - to legalize its status to continue to operate in Egypt in accordance with an executive regulation of the Press and Media Regulation Law issued on 16 February 2020.
The prank show tricks Egyptian and Arab celebrities into attending what they think will be a talk show in Dubai, only to find themselves strapped into a moving chair and ordered by Galal to repeat phrases glorifying him or demeaning themselves.
If they refuse, they are threatened with electric shocks, a snake, or other forms of humiliation.
The show unleashed a storm of criticism in Egyptian society for “normalising torture”. Several MPs, NGOs, and state institutions filed complaints against the show.
On Thursday, Egypt’s National Council for Women filed an official complaint against the show saying “it relies on bluntly insulting and bullying the guests, as well as humiliating and degrading female guests.”
On Wednesday, Egypt’s Media Syndicate issued a decision banning host and actor Galal from appearing on any media outlet broadcast in Egypt until legalizing his status.
According to a statement on Wednesday, Media Syndicate head Tarek Seada said Galal was making appearances as a presenter on MBC Masr without being a syndicate member or being licensed to practise the profession.
Egypt’s famous Abbasiya Psychiatric Hospital has also issued a statement condemning the show, describing it as a “psychological threat” to the mental health of Egyptian citizens, especially given the current pandemic situation.
The MBC network, however, said on Tuesday it will not be suspending the show.