Monocolumn: Chatshows That Talk Too Much

For millions of Egyptians, tuning into one of the numerous political chatshows that dominate the evening TV schedules is as habitual as eating dinner or lighting up a Cleopatra cigarette.

Monocolumn- Chatshows That Talk Too Much

Monocolumn is Monocle’s daily bulletin of news and opinion. Catch up with previous editions here.

For millions of Egyptians, tuning into one of the numerous political chatshows that dominate the evening TV schedules is as habitual as eating dinner or lighting up a Cleopatra cigarette. Anchored by heavyweight stars, the high-profile programmes have played a major role in the expansion of Egypt’s vibrant independent media sector in recent years – but that could be about to change.

After a series of resignations, business bust-ups and show cancellations, the chatshow industry has been left reeling and analysts are attributing the problems to a government crackdown on dissent in the run up to November’s contentious parliamentary elections.

One of the most popular shows, “Al-Qahira Al-Yom” (”Cairo Today) has already been pulled off air following a tussle with state-owned production studios which claim they are owed money for studio rental; the show’s co-host, Ahmed Moussa, has already dismissed the legal wrangle as a fabrication, insisting that “government malice” was behind the move and warning that “someone wants to crush freedom of expression and opinion”.

Meanwhile, rival production “Baladna Bel-Masri” (”Our Country”) has just lost its famous host Ibrahim Eissa, a prominent independent newspaper editor and outspoken government critic, who suddenly quit the show mid-season with no explanation. Although the programme producers quickly insisted Eissa’s departure was not politically motivated, Eissa, himself a veteran of many a court battle with the Mubarak regime, has pointedly refused to comment on the situation.

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