Gov’t shuts down 20 satellite channels ahead of parliamentary elections

Gov’t shuts down 20 satellite channels ahead of parliamentary elections

According to the Information Minister Annas El-Fiqi, the ban is simply corrective measures aimed at protecting Egyptian and Arab viewers.

The latest crackdown on media and political opposition namely the Muslim Brotherhood comes ahead of next month’s critical parliamentary elections. Tensions are rising as voting nears in late November.

 NileSat had also claimed that the channels had aired television commercials promoting what they described as “unlawful herbal remedies and misguided health information”

Opposition groups argue that the recent restrictions and tightening of the media control is related to the upcoming elections. The government measures triggered condemnations and criticism from rights group internationally, which questioned their timing.

 Recent incidents indicate the government’s real intentions to control most media outlets that broadcast opposition news ahead of the elections scheduled for November 2010.

Furthermore, recently the government ordered nine independent  satellite companies providing live feed of Egyptian current affairs to renew their permits giving them less than 24 hour notice to comply. According to the owner of the Cairo news company, the companies were warned they would face heavy fines.

 Egypt’s National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority followed suit with restrictions and regulations setting new rules for companies sending text messages to several mobile phones. According to the new rules, licences must be obtained by these companies, known as SMS aggregators

 Activists assert the move will stifle efforts to mobilize voters ahead of the upcoming elections. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood the largest, strongest and most influential opposition party had used the SMS messages as part of their campaign for Parliament in 2005 shedding light on the measures taken by the regime with its shutdowns.