In the beginning, a speech by the Minister of Defense, Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, during his meeting with a number of army leaders in 2013, was the need to create media arms for state institutions, and then his famous speech came – after he assumed the presidency in 2014 – when he considered that the late President Gamal Abdel Nasser was lucky to inform him. , because “he was talking and the media with him.”
As if those words were the starting signal for the launch of the plan to control the media and artistic content, which began with Sisi taking over the reins of power a year after a military coup that toppled the elected President Mohamed Morsi, and escalated and expanded until the United Company – which is widely believed to be owned by the intelligence – became the majority The Egyptian media has become the sole producer of most of the artwork, leaving a small margin for other companies.
beginning of the plan
The regime’s attempts to control the media began indirectly, through close businessmen; The Egyptian Media Company was owned by businessman Ahmed Abu Hashima, who bought a number of media institutions, before being bought by the intelligence-owned company, Eagle Capital, headed by former Minister of Investment Dalia Khorshid and the wife of Central Bank Governor Tariq Amer.
Eagle Capital assigned the presidency of the Egyptian Media Group to artistic producer Tamer Morsi, owner of Synergy Company for Dramatic Production, so that Morsi and the Egyptian media expanded in buying more satellite channels and production and advertising companies. Fields of journalism, media, advertising, content production and related technologies.
The company, due to its size and affiliation with a sovereign institution and an entity outside the competition, seemed to monopolize the provision of media and drama content, expelling other companies from the market.
The company’s influence reached the point of causing the overthrow of the former Minister of Information, Osama Heikal, after a preamble represented in the leaking of an old phone call to him and its broadcast on the first government channel, and then a continuous campaign by broadcasters and newspapers affiliated with the United Company, after the minister dared to criticize what he considered a decline in the Egyptian media. And its inability to compete with the opposition’s media broadcast from abroad, which the United Company considered a challenge to its success before the political leadership.
tremor and turbulence
But the company suffered a setback before the start of the last Ramadan season, as activists and writers launched a broad criticism campaign against the series “King Ahmose” produced by the company, due to historical errors that distort the ancient Egyptian civilization, according to their description.
The crisis of the series increased compared to the great success enjoyed by the ceremony of transferring the pharaonic mummies from the Egyptian Museum to the Museum of Civilizations, a ceremony that was admired by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, and the company’s crisis increased, especially since the party organized by the “Saadi-Gohar” company, which Tamer Morsi succeeded In its exclusion from the drama production market.
Also, the “Saadi-Gohar” company achieved dramatic success in the series “Newton’s Game”, which discussed issues related to women, such as oral divorce, which Sisi repeatedly calls for its prevention, but it collides with the rejection of Al-Azhar and its Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb.
Perhaps the straw that overthrew Tamer Morsi was due to the failure of the series “The Offspring of the Strangers”, which was subjected to great ridicule on the communication sites, as well as the director Mohamed Sami’s push for his wife to star in the series, in addition to the use of his sister and some of his relatives in the series, which led to the Finally, the company issued a statement to stop dealing with him.
According to press reports, Tamer Morsi was subjected to an internal investigation by intelligence officials about wasting public money on unsuccessful dramas worth $50 million.
New structure and surprises
The company held a press conference last Saturday, in which it confirmed rumors that preceded it and dealt with the scenes of the changes in its leadership structure and plans, and announced a number of decisions that observers considered formal and do not touch the essence of the dilemma of media and artistic creativity in Egypt, which is the absence of free and professional work, according to the opinion of the observers.
Among the most prominent changes were the offering of part of the company’s shares on the stock exchange, which means its transparency, knowledge of its sources of funding and the nature of its ownership, the launch of a global news channel next year, and the launch of competitions for creators.
The surprise was not the removal of Tamer Morsi from the presidency of the company, but rather the retention of him as a member of the board of directors, in exchange for the inclusion of producer Mohamed Al-Saadi on the board of directors, and he is the founding partner of “Saadi-Gohar”.
The other surprise was the appointment of Hassan Abdullah as head of the company, the former CEO of the Arab African International Bank, who was accused by Central Bank Governor Tarek Amer of wasting 9.2 billion pounds, according to press reports, but these charges were not followed by any investigations or judicial accountability after that.
In May 2019, the Egyptian “Al-Ahram” Foundation prevented the printing of a number of the opposition newspaper Al-Ahly, due to a press investigation about the company “Eagle Capital” that included corruption charges for the company’s president, Dalia Khorshid, the former Minister of Investment and wife of Tarek Amer, and press reports said that Tarek Amer accused Hassan Abdullah is behind these leaks in retaliation for him.
The Board of Directors of the United Media Services Company held its first meeting on Monday evening with its new formation, headed by the banker Hassan Abdullah, it ended with an affirmation of the company’s continuation in the plan to develop the presented content, enhance cooperation with various production companies, present a theatrical production, in addition to supporting workers through the United Fund For media workers.
He also affirmed the immediate start of applying governance mechanisms and strengthening financial and administrative control to enhance performance, and in preparation for offering the company’s shares on the Egyptian Stock Exchange.
The secret of Turki Al Sheikh?
In a press conference last Sunday, the United Company announced that it had entered into a partnership with the Saudi MBC network, explaining that it had signed memoranda of understanding that include fighting piracy on the Egyptian and Saudi sides, in addition to producing “massive production” jointly, as well as buying the Saudis business rights. The United Company for displaying on MBC channels and distributing them outside Egypt.
Interestingly, this announcement comes after the head of the Saudi Entertainment Authority, Turki Al-Sheikh, denied the authenticity of what the Egyptian media reported, Amr Adib, about entering the drama and artistic production market in Egypt through cooperation with Egyptian companies.
Adeeb works as a broadcaster for the Saudi-owned MBC Egypt channel, and is considered one of the closest broadcasters to the Egyptian security services. He received phone calls from Sisi several times.
And Amr Adib said, last Friday evening, that a press conference will be held to announce cooperation between the Egyptian and Saudi technical bodies, pointing out that 60 series and 15 plays will be produced, in addition to concerts, and that there are meetings that took place between the Sheikh family and some officials to develop plans.
This came days after President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi received Turki Al-Sheikh, in the presence of the head of Egyptian intelligence, Abbas Kamel.
Al-Sisi said that the Egyptian and Saudi leaderships and governments always seek to overcome any challenges and remove any obstacles that may face their joint business at the level of the public and private sectors, looking towards broader horizons of achievement and accelerating the achievement of common goals.
Optimism for an Egyptian news channel
Statements by officials and close to the authority praised the development steps. Karam Gabr, head of the Supreme Media Council, said that the United Company played an important role in reforming the private media process, and educating Egyptians through channels, programs and drama, after years of “hostile media controlled by funds, with the aim of broadcasting a message media against the higher national interests.
Gabr confirmed – during a telephone interview to one of the satellite channels – that the United Company presented an extended vision for the coming years, welcoming the establishment of an international regional news channel that expresses Egypt and its policy, which is a very big task, and requires great time and huge expenses, and “work is going in a healthy direction today.”
Broadcaster close to the authority, Amr Adib, expressed his optimism by announcing the launch of a new regional news channel, stressing that it will “express Egypt in the region”, and despite that it is a great challenge, as it needs continuous funding.
He added, during his television program, that Egypt possesses many factors, capabilities, strong competencies and cadres capable of operating the stations, and that it only needs “flexibility and speed of work in dealing with news”, apparently referring to not waiting for instructions and directions.
On the other hand, journalist writer Amr Al-Shobaki considered that the launch of a news channel is an “amazing repetition of failure”, indicating that the matter is not new and has been raised before.
Al-Shobaki wondered about the secret behind the repetition of unsuccessful experiences in creating new channels, which are at best local channels watched by a sector of Egyptians, and leave the Nile Channel for news, which can be developed and restructured and a special cadre for it retains only the existing competencies and bring others from outside it?
Al-Shobaki explained that the name of the Egyptian TV (Maspero) is part of the history of this country, and carries a resonance and echo in the Arab countries, and it can be built on, “Also, the Nile News Channel is supposed to be news, it is true that it did not succeed for reasons related to the professional and political framework in which it is moving, but That is what needs to be changed.”
Al-Shobaki’s talk came within an article published by Al-Masry Al-Youm, which was later deleted.
There is no success without freedom
In turn, the former Secretary-General of the Supreme Press Council, Qutb al-Arabi, believes that the success of such a trend – especially with regard to launching an international news channel – is contingent on the availability of freedom for journalists in their work, and this contradicts the existing general atmosphere. This regime “fears freedom because it is convinced that a limited margin of it He is the one who blew up the January 2011 revolution, and any margin of freedom will trigger a new revolution.
Al-Araby explained to Al-Jazeera Net that whether the satellite channels were under the umbrella of the Egyptian media or the United, the regime possessed a new and comprehensive media system that was like the “new Maspero”, but it is more comprehensive and diverse than the old Maspero, which is old and awaits death.
He stated that Gulf grants of billions after the 2013 coup did not enter the Central Bank or the Ministry of Finance, and exceeded 30 billion dollars – according to audio leaks of Sisi and his secretary at the time, Abbas Kamel – contributed to the establishment of this system, not to mention forcing the owners of the channels to give up their channels for a small price in order to avoid anger. the system.
The regime imagined – and still is – that it succeeded in establishing a new graceful media system capable of marketing it in the media, and it has already performed part of this task, but it has failed and will remain unable to convince the Egyptian citizen of the correctness of the regime’s policies, because it “lacks the spirit of media work, which is freedom, competitiveness and transparency.” According to the Arab.
He considered that the changes of the United Company, which owns about 90% of the private media in Egypt, are mere formal changes, and the most important change that took place was the opening of the company again to local and foreign investments by offering it to the stock exchange.
Al-Arabi ruled out entering local investments, because the investors realize that they will be partners of the intelligence in a company that rose mainly on the ruins of the property of businessmen, and no real foreign investment will advance to a partnership with the Egyptian intelligence, while the world is open around it, and only Gulf allies will remain from a buyer.