Renowned TV presenter Fouda halts famous show, citing media freedom restrictions

Hatem Maher, Friday 21 Oct 2011

ONTV presenter and prominent journalist Yosri Fouda puts his show 'Akher Kalam' (The Last Word) on hold for an indefinite period, citing censorship

Yosri Fouda
Yosri Fouda's famous TV show (Akher Kalam)

Renowned TV presenter Yosri Fouda said on Friday he had decided to halt his famous show ‘Akher Kalam’ for an indefinite period in protest at what he called “relentless censorship efforts.”

Fouda was due to host staunch SCAF critic Alaa El-Aswany on Thursday night to comment on the interview two Egyptian army generals, Mahmoud Hegazy and Mohamed El-Assar, gave on Wednesday.

Thursday’s episode was abruptly cancelled, fuelling speculation that Fouda, a highly-respected media figure, was pressured into shifting his plans by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

Fouda refrained from directly accusing any party of imposing restrictions on his work, but said he could not bear “an obligatory censorship.”

“There is a fact that gradually came to prominence during the past few months, which makes us feel that there are relentless efforts to maintain the core of the old system,” Fouda, a former BBC Arabic and Al-Jazeera employee, said in a statement on his Facebook page.

“That old system was dismantled by the Egyptian people after it spread corruption and immorality all over the country.

“There have been relentless efforts since the revolution, using both old and new techniques, to put direct and indirect pressure on those who still believe in the revolution’s values … to oblige them to impose self-restrictions on what should not be hidden.

“I find many reasons to halt the Akher Kalam show for an indefinite period. This is my way of self-restriction, either to say the truth or remain silent,” he added.

In May, Fouda was due to host an army general but was forced to cancel the episode after the Moral Affairs Department asked for an advance copy of the questions.

Another TV presenter, Dina Abdel-Rahman, was sacked by Dream TV after she challenged a retired Air Force major general to back up his allegations against presidential candidates with evidence.

Other journalists and presenters, including fellow ONTV employee Reem Maged, were summoned by the military prosecution for similar reasons.

SCAF vowed more than once not to impose any restrictions on the media but critics accuse it of acting behind the scenes, at times prohibiting the publishing of certain newspapers and pressuring owners of TV channels to cancel certain episodes.

Many media and press figures, including writers Belal Fadl and Omar Taher, stood by Fouda, heaping praise on him and bemoaning the kind of restrictions which are similar to those imposed during the pre-revolution era.

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