An Egyptian court of appeal on Thursday annuled a court ruling that ordered comedian Bassem Youssef and his production company to pay LE100 million in compensation to a satellite network which cancelled his show.
Network CBC stopped broadcasting the show El-Bernameg in 2013 after the first episode of the third season, aired on 25 October of that year, caused complaints that Youssef had mocked the military and then army-chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.
Following the show’s cancellation, production company QSoft terminated its contract with the network. CBC argued that this was a breach of contract and a violation of its editorial policies.
In its reasoning, the court said that the 2014 ruling by the Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (CRCICA) was based on hypothetical reasoning that lacked any evidence.
It added that the arbitration centre ignored the technical report that Qsoft presented about the extent of the damage that was caused following the suspension of the show.
In November 2014, the CRCICA ordered Youssef and QSoft to pay CBC network LE100 million, LE50 million each, as compensation for breaching their contract and suspending their show.
A few months after the CBC suspension, Youssef returned to the silver screen via Saudi and German-owned channels MBC Misr and Deutsche Welle, only to once again be suspended months later.
Following the show’s suspension Youssef left the country.
In December 2015, the Egyptian satirist said in an interview with Variety magazine that while he had his own problems with the Islamist regime which ruled Egypt prior to July 2013, his sense of humour was not tolerated by the government that removed the Islamic regime.
Youssef said he has decided not to produce El-Bernameg outside of Egypt, despite lucrative offers.
“This show belongs to Egypt, to an Egyptian team, to an Egyptian audience in the heart of Cairo. And I’m not going to be a dissident, a fugitive who is going to be doing the show from outside the country. I think if I’m not there, it sends a much clearer message about how things are,” Youssef explained in the interview.