Cabinet may reconsider ban on new satellite channels

The Cabinet is reconsidering the ban on issuing new permits for private satellite channels, state-run news agency MENA reported on Thursday.

Former Information Minister Osama Heikal had announced the ban in September 2011, following a decision made by the interim government headed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Heikal claimed that private satellite networks were igniting chaos.

During 2011, the broadcast of the Al Jazeera Masr satellite channel out of Cairo was halted when the military government claimed the channel was operating without the required licenses. Other private channels, such as Dream TV, were also affected by the resolution.

During a 6 March meeting, the Cabinet agreed to reconsider the ban at the request of Investment Minister Osama Saleh, who argued that new satellite channels are an important area of investment for the country.

However, MENA’s report contradicts statements published in the privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm on Thursday. The latter paper reported that in Tuesday’s meeting with the Canadian-Egyptian Business Council, Saleh said that strict new laws would be issued to deter private channels from “spreading rumors that harm the economic interests of the country.”

Saleh accused such channels, which he did not name, of broadcasting false statements. He claimed these private channels allocate a large amount of their on-air time to shows addressing topics that foment chaos and destroy the country.

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