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State media employees protest pay cuts, demand minister's dismissal

Handful of state television/radio employees demonstrate in Cairo against planned pay cuts and perceived restrictions on media coverage

Ahram Online, Sunday 21 Apr 2013
Maspero
State television building, Maspero (Photo: Al-Ahram)
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Dozens of employees of the state-run Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU) on Sunday staged a rally outside ERTU headquarters in Cairo's Maspero district to protest new wage regulations and what they claim are restrictions on coverage imposed by Information Minister Salah Abdel-Maqsoud.

"Employees of the specialised channels, the television-news sector, channels One and Two and the satellite Masriya channel demand the dismissal of the information minister because of mismanagement and his policy of placing certain guests, who belong to the Muslim Brotherhood, on talk shows," read a statement by protesting employees.

The statement goes on to allege that "the ERTU's middle management, with whom the minister is still collaborating, are the same ones who worked under the Mubarak regime."

"Recent pay cuts by as much as 60 percent – using the excuse of the economic crisis – only serve to sabotage what is left of the national media institution by making the ERTU an unfavourable workplace that hinders the process of reconciliation with the public," the statement concluded.

In late March, the ERTU's board of directors released a new budget reducing wages in the television sector, triggering uproar among employees and prompting some to stage protests to demand the move be reversed.  

Abdel-Maqsoud, once a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, has faced criticism from some employees of the state television sector, who accuse him of influencing news coverage in favour of the group, from which President Mohamed Morsi hails.

Appointed last summer, Abdel-Maqsoud also came under fire this week when a female Egyptian journalist accused him of verbal harassment following a comment he made during a filmed press conference that was widely circulated on online social-media networks.

State media in Egypt has come under scrutiny since the 25 January 2011 uprising, during which the Mubarak regime blatantly skewed news coverage against anti-regime protesters.

In the wake of the uprising, ERTU journalists have launched a number of initiatives aimed at ensuring the independence of Egyptian state media.

The ERTU employs roughly 40,000 people.

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