Bassem Yousef’s controversial satirical show “El-Bernameg” (the Program) has been permanently suspended after disputes between the show’s production company and the Egyptian CBC channel escalated when the channel decided not to broadcast the show’s second episode. The channel has now decided to suspend the show for criticising Egypt’s Defence Minister General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, criticism that many have described as “trivial” in comparison to the show’s level and style of criticism for ousted President Mohammed Morsi, which was permitted to air over seven months.
The show’s production company Qsoft issued a statement on Sunday evening, saying that it had decided to terminate its contract with the Al-Mustaqbal (Future) company, the owner of Capital Broadcast Centre (CBC) channel and will take all legal measures to ensure compensation for the financial losses and other damages the company has sustained as a result of the CBC’s intransigent position.
The company’s statement read: “Over the past few weeks, our company has silently and patiently endured the unfair campaign launched by Future against the “El-Bernameg” show, its host Bassem Yousef and our company, trying to restrict the show’s substance. On 1 November, although it had received the episode in a timely manner, the CBC channel refused to air the show’s second episode – an unprecedented measure in the media – and issued a humiliating statement defaming our company. The CBC statement contained flimsy arguments and pretexts, including accusations of non-compliance with the channel’s editorial policy, a lack of commitment to deliver the agreed upon episodes on schedule, and the insistence on receiving additional payments to produce new episodes. The arguments are incorrect and intend to justify the channel’s decision to arbitrarily suspend the show. The channel’s arguments do not justify its sudden and suspicious decision, especially considering that the channel had been hosting the show for more than seven months with great success.”
According to Qsoft, “the CBC’s decision to suspend the show reflects a negative image to the world about state of democracy and freedom of expression in Egypt after the ’30 June revolution’, particularly as several newspapers and Western media have been expressing great concern over the recent attacks against the freedom of expression in Egypt, which harms Egypt’s image abroad.”
The owner of CBC, Muhammad Al-Amin, responded to Qsoft’s statement by saying that the “El-Bernameg” affair “will be brought before court, and the coming days will reveal the results.”