During the past seven years, independent media outlets have been absent in Egypt. Lack of freedom of expression has overtaken everything, including social media networks. Only a few young media professionals who run a limited number of media outlets have succeeded in being different and working outside Egypt with modest capabilities.
In Istanbul, there are three independent Egyptian TV channels. Independent here means that they are far from the control of the government and the dictations of its security system, as is the case with dozens of channels, newspapers and websites that address the Egyptian public. These three channels have managed, in recent years, to form a unique platform for a large number of Egyptian opposition members who have no voice and no place in the media outlets dominated by the regime in Egypt which broadcast one, and only one, opinion.
Egyptian opposition media abroad is a phenomenon that deserves to be monitored and studied, and perhaps a master's or a PhD should be carried out based on their evolution. One of the most important characteristics of these channels is that those in charge are the youth of the revolution who were in Tahrir Square in January 2011, and most of them are neither members of the traditional media profession nor graduates of media institutes and colleges. Despite this, they have achieved great success and surpassed most of the well-known Egyptian channels. They even excelled in covering the Egyptian news better than well-known and prestigious news channels that have accordingly attracted a large audience.
The Mekameleen channel is one of three Egyptian channels that was able to attract a wide audience in Egypt and the Arab world after it broadcast the Abbas Kamel leaks. These leaks were exclusively broadcast by the Egyptian journalist Osama Gaweesh, one by one. Gaweesh is one of the non-traditional media professionals who learned media but did not study it. Originally, he is a dentist and had it not been for the January revolution, he would not have even thought of working in the media.
The leaks that captured the attention of Egyptians and Arabs was not the only topic that made these channels unique. More importantly, they were and still are the only forum for an alternative opinion in Egypt. They have managed to cover controversial news stories even though they are not present in Egypt. This confirms that they are popular among Egyptians.
There are many indicators that these channels enjoy a wide audience. Among these indicators is the success of many popular campaigns launched by the Al-Sharq channel run by Dr. Ayman Nour, such as the campaign by one of their TV hosts to write on bank notes in support of political prisoners which were then posted on social media.
Many peaceful campaigns have been launched by Mekameleen and Al-Sharq which shows the huge impact these stations have on public opinion in Egypt and how important they are as an alternative platform for young people who experienced the revolution and the opposition forces that have no voice in Egypt.
To conclude, these Egyptian TV channels for the opposition truly are a rare phenomenon, as they are outlets that are not run by employees waiting for their salaries at the end of the month, nor journalists who got their certificates from colleges and universities. It's a phenomenon that deserves to be studied very carefully, taking into account all the successes that these channels have managed to achieve.
This article first appeared in Arabic on Al Quds Al Arabi, 17 August 2020
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.