Egypt's Al-Nahar TV channel denies halting political talk show

Ahram Online, Wednesday 26 Jun 2013

Channel owner Alaa El-Kahky says no decision was taken to take Mahmoud Saad's 'Akher El-Nahar' political talk show off air

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TV host Mahmoud Saad (Photo: screen shot of Al-Nahar TV)

Television host Mahmoud Saad's talk show on the privately-owned Al-Nahar channel has only been temporarily halted, channel owner Alaa El-Kahky told Al-Ahram's Arabic-language news website on Wednesday.

Saad, who hosts the daily 'Akher El-Nahar' talk show alternately with Youm7 newspaper editor-in-chief Khaled Salah, said in a phone interview with ONtv on Wednesday that he had been told that his programme would be permanently taken off the air.

According to El-Kahky, there have been discussions among the channel's senior staff about halting all political programmes and only broadcasting news bulletins. The move, he said, aimed at "calming things down, as the current situation is critical and very worrying."

He added that such a decision, if implemented, would be put into effect for one week. El-Kahky went on to deny, however, that Saad's programme had been definitively halted, expressing his "surprise" about the channel's internal discussions.

Egypt is anticipating nationwide anti-government protests beginning next Sunday aimed at forcing President Mohamed Morsi – who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood group – to step down in advance of snap presidential elections.

Calls for the protests on 30 June were first issued by the anti-Morsi 'Rebel' signature campaign and have received the endorsement of most major opposition groups.

In response, Islamist groups, including the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), said they would begin an open-ended sit-in on Friday in support of Morsi's "democratic legitimacy."

Tensions have mounted between supporters and opponents of the presidency, with minor clashes seen at a number of political rallies in recent weeks.

Saad has been a prominent critic of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in his programme. In May, he signed the 'Rebel' movement's petition to withdraw confidence from the president on live television.

In a second interview with ONtv's Reem Magued on Wednesday, Saad said the channel had decided to halt the programme, including episodes hosted by Salah. Salah, however, hosted the programme as usual on Wednesday night.

El-Kahky, who owns Al-Nahar along with several businessmen, said that the channel's internal discussions were not the result of any "political instructions."

Meanwhile, the Egyptian military began securing Cairo's Media Production City (MPC) ahead of the upcoming protests.

The MPC, which is home to most private Egyptian television and radio stations, is located in 6 October City, a satellite city on the outskirts of Cairo.

The MPC has previously been the site of protests and sit-ins by Islamist groups who accuse private channels of anti-Islamist and anti-Morsi coverage.

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