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ANHRI voices concern over military role in new media council following TV programme's suspension

(ANHRI/IFEX) - Cairo 7 June 2011 - ANHRI has expressed concern over the first decision of the National Media Council, issued on 4 June 2011, to suspend the television programme "Cairo Time", hosted by the respected journalist Hafez Al-Mirazi. ANHRI also voiced concern over what the exact role and responsibilities of the new council would be.

The first episode of "Cairo Time" was to have been presented last Saturday, but Tarek El Mahdi, a military general and member of the transitional military council, decided to suspend the program indefinitely because he rejected the idea of using Al-Mirazi as the sole presenter of the program for the entire week.

ANHRI believes the government has taken a step backwards by announcing the establishment of the National Media Council to replace the Egyptian Radio and Television Union and appointing Tarek El Mahdi, a military general, to head it. Moreover, the Egyptian government has not yet defined the nature, role, or authority of the new council.

"This is a classic example of the Egyptian government putting the cart before the horse," said ANHRI. "Military supervision over the media is not serving the Egyptian media at a time when the independence and professionalism of the media are fundamental to restoring the credibility lost during the decades when the media operated as a mere mouthpiece of the regime. There are dozens, even hundreds of capable media professionals who could successfully perform this role. The decision to suspend 'Cairo Time' clearly shows the mistake the interim Egyptian government has made in choosing a military head for the most important media position in Egypt."
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