The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

NDP leaders criticize state television

In addition to the article referred to by Issandr about the death of an Al Ghad supporter during the trial of Ayman Nour, Al Misry Al Yom has a story today that reports that NDP leaders have begun calling for state television to cover and broadcast the oppostion's anti-Mubarak demonstrations. Ex-minister of youth Ali Eddin Hilal and Mamdouh Al-Baltagi, current minister of youth, both went on the record.

Said Hilal: "There is no value in hiding such news after the independent press and the satellites deal with all such happenings in detail."

It's just one more testament to the impact that Al Jazeera has had and is continuing to have. Here's Abu Aardvark commenting on an AP article on the same subject from early June. Here's a bit from an article I wrote in April about the impact of satellites on the Egyptian elections.

Al Jazeera may have a more indirect impact as well. There is increasing pressure on state media to reform, as its credibility sinks to all time lows, and viewers increasingly turn to channels such as Al Jazeera for their news. State television was slammed by critics when it failed to cover the April 17 suicide bombing near Al Azhar. A subsequent headline in Al Masry Al Youm read "Egyptian television watched the Al Azhar incident on Al Jazeera." Al Jazeera reported the bombing first at 6:30 pm and was quick to provide analysis and commentary. State television failed to provide coverage of the bombing until 9 p.m., and then they simply rebroadcast MBC's coverage of the incident. Why the delay and the failure to cover the event? According to Al Masry Al Youm, state television's authoritarian news director had his mobile phone turned off and thus couldn't authorize the broadcast. A week later, Osama al-Ghazali Harb, editor in chief of the Al Ahram-owned quarterly journal Al Siyasa Al Dawliyya (International Policy), wrote in Al Ahram Weekly that the state media relies on one of three strategies towards covering unfavorable news: completely ignoring the event, downplaying its importance, or attacking members of the opposition.

"This strategy only serves to highlight the fact that large swathes of the official media continue to live in the 1950s, a proud example of the very worst in state-controlled, dictatorial media even as dictatorships and the absolute state are on the wane," al-Ghazali Harb wrote.

Today's Al Misry article also printed a rebuttal from the news director for Egyptian state television in which he pointed out that state television had indeed covered the anti-police violence protests in front of the Interior Ministry a few weeks ago, and also covered the Ayman Nour trial. I have been gone for the past month, so I can't vouch for either of those claims.