By Tamim Elyan
CAIRO: General Tarek Al-Mahdy, acting head of the Egyptian Radio and Television Union’s board of trustees (ERTU) and member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), denied any interference in the editorial content of state TV.
He refuted allegations that he gave orders not to use “ousted president” and use “former president” when mentioning Hosni Mubarak, and that there is a tendency toward “militarizing” Egyptian media.
“I am a person who has a very clean history, very clear and very smart and I am working on developing Egyptian TV through its staff. I only take decisions based on the interest of Maspero,” he said in a meeting with the media Wednesday.
Al-Mahdy said that he gave orders to the heads of departments to discuss the future of their programs rather than engaging in endless debates. “We should discuss the basis on which we should choose the next president and members of the parliament,” he said.
He said that the decision to suspend of Hafez Al-Marazy’s show “Cairo’s Time” wasn’t political.
“I am working on marketing Channels One and Two and left it up to those who are assigned to marketing the channels to decide whether Al-Marazy with his salary will be beneficial for us or not, but we respect our contract with him,” Al-Mahdy said.
He denied that there was a list of names of people banned from appearing on TV.
“There are people who frequently appear on TV so they are easier to contact than others but we are now working on diversifying the guests,” Al-Mahdy said.
He said that they postponed the idea of launching “Al-Masdar” news channel because of the ongoing attack on it as some claimed it would be the SCAF’s voice.
“The idea was to have a channel where only officials appear and make specific statements about specific issues and we would give time to the SCAF and the Cabinet, as well as, ministers, governors and heads of authorities,” he explained. The channel would sell its content to other TV and satellite stations.
Al-Mahdy said that they agreed with Google to streamline the content of Egyptian channels live.
He also said that Egyptian TV will air all drama series in Ramadan after they were offered for free by production companies in return of 50 percent of advertisements.
Al-Mahdy said that the marketing plan for Ramadan drama last year achieved losses of more than LE 100 million. He said he would personally issue decision regarding the censorship of the content based on reports from review committees and “public opinion.”
He said that there will be a new wages system for employees based on a basic salary and incentives. A huge gap was found between the amount of money assigned to salaries in the budget — LE 166 million — and the actual total of salaries — LE 27 million.