Satirist Bassem Youssef’s hit talk show, “Al-Bernameg,” is seeking to terminate its contract with its broadcaster CBC after the channel’s refusal to air its new episodes.
A statement released by the “Al-Bernameg” production company Qsoft called CBC’s decision to suspend Youssef’s show after airing only the first episode of the third season “sudden and unjustified,” insisting on receiving compensation for “intellectual and financial harm.”
Qsoft said it will take all legal means necessary against CBC, calling the statement in which the network decided to suspend “Al-Bernameg” both humiliating and defaming.
CBC presenter Lamees El-Hadidi confirmed that “Al-Bernameg” is seeking to sever ties with the network.
CBC decided to suspend “Al-Bernameg” on 2 November just minutes before the second episode of the season was slated to be broadcast, airing a statement that said the show refused to abide to the network’s editorial policies.
The channel also said that Youssef and his team had not delivered all the episodes that had been stipulated in his contract for the previous season, leading to the suspension of the programme until legal and financial issues were resolved.
Qsoft denied all claims of wrongdoing.
Youssef created controversy on the season premiere of “Al-Bernameg” when he took jabs at the cult of personality surrounding commander of the Armed Forces Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi, Islamists and the low profile of interim President Adly Mansour. The Armed Forces and the presidency have traditionally been red lines in the Egyptian media—topics to be avoided.
Within 24 hours of the show’s airing, the prosecutor’s office had already received several complaints about the programme, accusing Youssef of defaming the military and working to “undermine the honour and dignity of Egypt and its people.”
On 12 November it was reported that the general prosecutor had opened an investigation into complaints against Youssef.
The Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) “deplored the intense campaign” against Youssef following the episode, which aired on 25 October, and demanded that his show be allowed to return to the airwaves. ANHRI considered the suspension of the programme “a blow to the freedom of expression after 30 June and confirms the return of businessmen owning the media to impose self-censorship in order to preserve their interests with authority.”
Political parties, groups and figures including Misr Al-Qawia, Mohamed ElBaradei and the 6 April Movement condemned the suspension of Al-Bernameg, while presidential media advisor Ahmed Al-Moslimany attempted to distance the government from the incident, emphasising the interim government’s support of freedom of speech, adding that the CBC decision was an internal matter.
Neither the “Al-Bernameg” production team nor CBC returned requests for comment.