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Television station ordered to stop broadcasting; complaint filed against another station

(ANHRI/IFEX) - The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) denounces the continuing prohibitions on media freedoms hours before runoff elections held on 5 December 2010. On 3 December, the board of the Media Free Zone ruled that the elFara'een television station must cease broadcasting following allegations of irregularities by the election monitoring committee. Minister of Information Anas elFiqqy forwarded the file on the channel's violations to the committee.

This is not the first government assault on elFara'een. The station received warnings on two prior occasions in 2010. The owner of the station is a National Democratic Party (NDP) member, however it seems an internal partisan conflict is behind the current restrictions.

In another case, the minister of information filed a complaint against the alHurra station before the elections high committee, accusing it of breaching elections regulations and re-airing a program about parliamentary elections; the high committee, in turn, filed a report with the prosecutor general against the station. On 1 December, a case was opened against the station's managers. The investigation is ongoing.

In addition, Egyptian Satellite Company has challenged the decision of an administrative court allowing for four barred channels - elRahma, elBadr, elHafiz and elSaffa - to resume operating after the Egyptian government arbitrarily shut them down.

ANHRI condemns all limitations on state and independent media, as well as the double standard demonstrated by the Egyptian government in its harassment of elFara'een, whose regulations breaches were no different than those committed by the state-owned channel, who hosted many government officials and NDP leaders on talk shows and saw no action from the minister of information.

"This annoying prohibition on the media is unrelated to violations and breaching of regulations. If the government was really interested in monitoring violations they would have cancelled the whole flawed election process. The real issue involves terrorizing an independent media that is keen to inform the public about what is happening in Egypt. Yet, the government wishes to control all media so that ongoing government violations can be committed in the dark," says ANHRI.

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