More than 7 years ago, specifically in October 2013, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, while he was still Minister of Defense, spoke in a private meeting with Egyptian army officers about the need for the armed forces for media arms to ensure the loyalty of the Egyptian media and avoid any Criticism, but no one could have imagined that Sisi’s vision of those arms was Almost complete control of the media Which was independent, through companies and entities affiliated with the various intelligence services.
The media scene in Egypt not only raises the concern of human rights organizations and thousands of Egyptian media professionals, but also raises the astonishment of observers, due to the Egyptian regime’s continuing Attempts to dominate new media, Despite the apparent failure to manage it by the sovereign bodies established by the state, either explicitly or through cooperation with businessmen over the past years.
This mangled scene was clearly described by Dr. Ayman Mansour Nada, a professor of media and head of the radio and television department at the Faculty of Media at Cairo University, in an article on his Facebook page, and despite his removal, it was reported by some media professionals, including the journalist Hafez Al-Merazi: “What happened over the years The last seven days in the media file, if someone were deliberately assigned to sabotage the environment and bulldoz the media land, he would not have done more than what has been done..and we will continue to suffer for many years to come, as a result of what happened .. unprofessional practices have been established, and unprofessional media professionals escalated. The disposal of real competencies … and the selection of inappropriate leaders in various locations … and a practice ethic prevailed that would not have prevailed … and all of it. By the law, and all of it is under the eyes and hearing of the state and its blessing … “.
A plan to control the media.
The state’s plan to control the media was first crystallized in 2016, when controversial businessman Ahmed Abu Hashima bought the ON group of channels from its former owner, billionaire Naguib Sawiris, through the Egyptian Media Company that Abu Hashima founded at that time, to be the media arm – As was said at the time – his main company, “Egyptian Iron”.
Arab Post learned from reliable sources related to the deal that it began by almost a coincidence, when Sawiris was receiving constant remarks from the security services criticizing the channel’s performance and its relative expansion in criticizing government policies, which angered Sisi, who believed that the role of professional media was neutral. It is the recognition of achievements only, without addressing problems or shortcomings.
The devices took advantage of Sawiris’ involvement in criticizing Sisi personally and many well-known figures in the country, during a private session with a famous broadcaster on the same channel at that time, to summon the billionaire and threaten to sell the “On TV” channel or transfer his order to an investigation. To businessman Ahmed Abu Hashima, for half a billion Egyptian pounds, despite the fact that he had offered it for sale one year earlier, for only 230 million pounds, and he had not found anyone to buy it.
Abu Hashima was instructed to purchase ON TV from Sawiris before he was deported the following year
As it happened with Sawiris, the same thing happened with Abu Hashima, who received clear instructions to buy the channel, and was financially supported by about half a billion pounds from an important sovereign apparatus, to complete the deal and immediately start developing the channel, which meant the expulsion of all independent voices from it, headed by the Lebanese broadcaster. British Lilian Daoud.
It is noteworthy that Abu Hashima not only bought “On TV” or launched a specialized sports channel called “On Sport” and another for variants called “On E”, but he penetrated through his company in the fabric of the Egyptian media, so he acquired the newspapers of the seventh day, the Dot of Egypt and the voice of the nation. And others, in addition to a number of news websites. But Abu Hashima left the media scene in a sudden and strange way the following year, when the Eagle Capital Holding Company, which is owned by the General Intelligence, bought a controlling percentage of its shares.
A well-known journalist who worked for a period in the upper management of the Egyptian Media Company told Arabi Post that Abu Hashima was excluded for two essential reasons, as we were told at the time: The first was that he was merely a front for the General Intelligence in “Egyptian Media”, and he began to act as if he was the actual owner. The media group, and the second, the state’s dissatisfaction (meaning the president personally) with the performance of ON channels and their role in enhancing the regime’s popularity, so it decides that the intelligence services themselves take over the management of the media group.
The paradox, according to the journalist, is that the first meeting with Dalia Khorshid, Chair of the Board of Directors of Eagle Capital and the former Minister of Investment, revealed a clear confusion and lack of vision of what the state, the president and intelligence want from the media group, as she asked the leaders present at the meeting to perform a strong media that demonstrates the important role What the state is doing to preserve the country from external and internal dangers surrounding it, and to focus on the president’s achievements and their importance for serving the people, but in the same word it stressed the need for all media platforms to achieve profits in order to continue, without being aware of the apparent conflict between the commercial goal and the media message that demanded Connect it.
The accumulation of losses did not prevent the “Egyptian Media” and its intelligence leaders from purchasing more channels
Arab Post learned from its sources within the group that it had failed to avoid heavy material losses despite direct intelligence overseeing the operations, through intelligence leaders participating in the management of the group, along with Tamer Morsi, the owner of Synergy for Artistic Production and a former intelligence man as well. As the losses in 2018 amounted to more than 6 billion pounds.
However, the accumulated losses did not deter those in charge of “Egyptian media” from continuing the policy of acquiring new channels, because the matter is not related to market studies or feasibility studies, and clear visions about what the group’s management wants from its acquisition of these channels, as far as the implementation of “higher” instructions. By purchasing more and more private channels; To participate in the queue praising the President’s accomplishments.
In 2018, “Egyptian Media” acquired a group of “CBC” channels owned by the Future Company, which was owned by the “mysterious” businessman Mohamed Al-Amin, who suddenly appeared in the Egyptian media scene after the January 25 revolution of 2011, where he founded “CBC” channel, then expanded in the following years, launching several additional channels such as Extra News, Travel and Drama.
Al-Amin faced many accusations that he made his fortune from money laundering, but it is known that he was an engineer who worked for many years in the field of supplying sanitary ware in the State of Kuwait, but not much is known about his wealth and its source.
In the same year, “Egyptian Media” purchased the Al Hayat Group from the Falcon Security Services Company, which it acquired in 2017 from its owner, Mr. Al-Badawi, and also acquired Al-Nahar channels from its owner Alaa Al-Kahki.
Falcon security company acquires Al-Hayat channels in exchange for the black files of Mr. Al-Badawi
J says. Q, an Egyptian media expert, said that the issue of the sovereign authorities ’acquisition of the various media groups did not face any difficulties, not because the owners of these channels have national motives or an understanding of the need for the state to control the media, nor even because of their greed to achieve profits from sales deals, but rather because The sovereign bodies have black files for each of them, threatening them to remove them when needed, which makes every channel owner scramble to abandon them.
The most prominent evidence of this is what happened in the purchase of Al Hayat Channels Group, which was owned by Mr. Al-Badawi, a famous businessman in the pharmaceutical sector. One of the companies of the Falcon Group and the Sigma Media Company signed a framework agreement through which the former would acquire the “Al-Hayat” satellite network, and instead of negotiating with Al-Badawi the appropriate amount to abandon the group, the negotiator took files out of his desk drawer. All the violations of Al-Badawi since the beginning of his commercial activity, including a large number of bounced checks without balance, and court sentences for his imprisonment obtained by the holders of the returned checks. Consequently, the man signed a contract to sell the “Al-Hayat” group without taking a single pound.
Regarding the goal of controlling all private media platforms, without paying attention to spending those billions on developing state media, which is called a national media in Egypt, the media expert said, Sisi believes in the wisdom that says “buying a slave and not raising him” in the sense that it is easier to buy a ready-made entity. Instead of wasting time and effort building an entity from scratch that may not succeed, but the paradox is that all the channels that the security services have taken over are achieving a dismal media and financial failure, for two reasons: The first is the officers ’mismanagement of those media entities and their lack of vision and purpose, which led to the second reason that It is represented in the apparatus’s channels that provide mobilizing media, such as that which was presented during the era of the late President Abdel Nasser, whom Sisi envied that he had a supportive and supportive media, but these officers do not realize that what was good during the days of Nasser is no longer valid now in the time of positions Social communication, the Internet, and open spaces that have enabled quite a few Egyptians to follow the opposition channels broadcasting from Turkey; In search of real information that the local media in Egypt do not provide to them.
An unfortunate experience of the Military Intelligence with “DMC” channels.
In January of 2017, the Military Intelligence launched its own group of channels, called “DMC”, in what appeared to be a reflection of the ongoing struggle between the sovereign bodies in Egypt to expand their areas of influence, and assigned the management of the group to Tariq Ismail Who had founded D Media Company for media production a short while before, while his main activity was based on the clothing and car trade, as he owns one of the largest car showrooms in Egypt in the name of Al-Tariq Showrooms.
M. A, one of the media professionals who worked in a leadership position for “DMC News”, which did not see the light, that they contracted with them and they spent nearly two years preparing for the launch, but that date never came despite the enthusiasm of Mrs. Manal Al-Daftar, the channel’s president and the rest of the team, adding with a smile His Excellency, that he personally was not harmed by the continuous delay, leading to the cancellation of the channel’s issuance in the first place, because he used to receive his salary like the rest of the work team regularly, stressing that he considered a two-year salary without real work “permissible”, because it is compensation for taxes and exorbitant fees that the state collects from him without Right or to have the power to object!
The news channel was not the only failed experiment in a group of Military Intelligence channels. Rather, it was preceded by the “DMC Sport” channel, whose management was assigned to a former employee of the TV library, and most of its programs were presented by a young journalist who is not widely accepted in the sports community, Ibrahim Fayek. It only lasted a year and a few months, and then it was closed, due to the heavy financial losses incurred by the group, without adequate advertising revenues. It was also banned from broadcasting the Egyptian League matches after the acquisition of the “On Sport” channel, owned by the General Intelligence, on the broadcast rights alone.
Only the public DMC channel, which does not have much viewership, remains of the group, and the drama channel, which is the only one in the group that has acceptable follow-up rates, perhaps because it offers only series without mobilization programs.
A security services company acquires Al Mehwar channel and a daily newspaper
The year 2017 witnessed the entry of a new security entity into the media arena, Falcon Company for Security Services and Consulting, which is affiliated with the Ministry of Interior, as one of its employees said, and the Egyptians knew it through its role in securing international matches hosted by Egyptian clubs and the national team in the presence of the masses.
In a strange gesture, the company decided to acquire the Al Hayat Group in 2017, but it quickly abandoned it in favor of the “Egyptian Media” group in the immediate following year, without explaining the reasons for the company’s acquisition of the channels or the reasons for abandoning them, and after 3 years of disappearance from the scene. Media, Falcon returned to the spotlight again in the current month of March, after it acquired a percentage in the Mehwar channel owned by businessman Hassan Ratib, while the ruling percentage went to Muhammad Manzur, a member of Parliament for the Future of the Nation Party loyal to the President, but a source within The company revealed to “Arab Post”, that Manzoor is nothing but a civil front, and that his percentage of the channel’s shares are in fact owned by Falcon.
The same source also mentioned that the company is in the process of owning a ruling percentage of the shares of a daily newspaper after it was agreed with its owner, the businessman, to give it up, leaving nothing left except to sign the official contracts for that.
It should be noted that the relationship of the Egyptian president himself with the media is a contradictory and hesitant relationship, as he realizes – as he said on more than one occasion – the importance of the media and its role as a soft force for his regime, but he always expresses his anger at the performance of the media, and it is strange that he did not content himself with directing his criticism of the media voices that oppose or He criticizes timidly, but extends his anger to the voices loyal to him, known for their strong ties to the sovereign apparatus. During the past years, a number of broadcasters known to support Sisi, such as Tawfiq Okasha, the former owner of the Al-Faraeen channel, Khairy Ramadan, and many others, have been “pulled” by several broadcasters known to support Sisi.