Head of the Media Syndicate, Tarek Saeda, filed on Sunday a report against Al-Qahera Wel Nas TV channel due to refraining from receiving its decision to stop TV anchor Basma Wahba from presenting the controversial “Sheikh El-Hara” TV show.
The syndicate said the channel’s stance is a violation for the media code of honour and articles 2-19 of the Syndicate Law which prohibits the practice of media activity without registering in the syndicate’s list or obtaining a permit to practice the profession.
The syndicate also decided to take criminal action against the TV anchor and the management of the channel according to the Syndicate’s Law, which stipulates imprisonment and fines for anyone who has been involved in a media activity without obtaining union membership or a license to practice the profession.
Article 89 further provides penalties to close the media channel if it allows any person to work without a permit or to engage in media activity.
The Supreme Media Council, headed by Makram Mohamed Ahmed, issued on Sunday a decree banning the broadcasting of the controversial TV show hosted by TV presenter Wahba for one month.
The decision came after the council’s complaints committee met on Sunday to investigate observed violations in several show episodes, and to review complaints sent to the council against it. The council stated that the show is violating profession and morals ethics, as well as invading privacies, and promoting discrimination.
However, the council issued an official ban, on Sunday night, of a new show episode which has been broadcasted with political analyst Mostafa El-Fekki.
The show is aired during the month of Ramadan on TV channel Al-Qahera Wel Nas of each year, and its episodes are repeated throughout the rest of the year on the channel.
Sheikh El-Hara was criticised by some people for violating celebrities’ privacy by putting them under pressure to speak about their personal relationships, while other people support the show for being bold and critical.
Wahba hosted different celebrities in her show and asked them about controversial issues, situations in their lives, and personal matters. The show starts by narrating stories or rumours about the guests’ personal lives and the presenter asks her guest about the accuracy of these stories.
At the same time, a dispute occurred between Wahba and the TV channel, after it aired an episode without Wahba’s knowledge, for writer Yasmine Khatib on 25 May, while Wahba had requested banning the episode as it included names of several public figures which could put the show in trouble. This situation led Wahba to step down.
A huge wave of critics increased against the TV show, after an episode aired on 19 May with an Egyptian artist who narrated a story including discrimination against African people. Social media users have been blogging against the show since the beginning of the month due to several violations, stressing that it does not meet the morals of the holy month as it discusses private and personal issues of celebrities as well as their relations with other public figures.
Galal Awara, the deputy of the culture and media parliamentary committee, commented on the channel’s ignorance of the decision, elaborating that the channel did not implement the decision and this illustrates that it does not respect the law, which gives the media council the right to ban or stop any programme which violates any media values.
Also, Ahmed Salim, the secretary-general of the media council, said that the council sent its decision to the channel to stop the show.
Osama Sharshar, member of the parliamentary media committee, denounced the violations observed during the show’s episodes, noting that there is an urgent statement sent by the committee to Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal, to view the programme episodes and to call the media council officials and the National Media Authority to review all Egyptian programmes and series during Ramadan, in terms of using profanities, violence, or extremist ideas.
He added that the committee supports the media council in any decision in service of Egyptian national security.
“We are with freedom, but also with ethics and standards,” he said, adding “If there are media personnel who offend Egypt and people and our relations with Arab and African countries, they must be investigated, and there must be a responsibility and a political and media sense to preserve Egyptian national security.”
The Media Syndicate announced on Saturday that Wahba has been suspended from practicing any media activity until the syndicate regulates her status, after receiving a report by the media observatory of the syndicate showing excess “professional and moral violations in the show.”
Furthermore, the syndicate said that after reviewing the legal permits given to media personnel, it was found that Wahba was not registered in the syndicate and did not obtain a temporary permit to conduct any media activity.
When asked why the TV show is getting high reviews, media professor Laila Abdel Mageed said that these types of programmes, which include gossip and scandals, usually attract a large number of people, especially as it addresses one of the human instincts which is curiosity, adding that the public has a desire to know of celebrity news and their stories that are raised on social media platforms from time to time.
Commenting on the importance of the show, she asserted that these programmes have no impact on the viewer, saying, “What is the message carried to the people by Sheikh El-Hara? It is just a matter of entertainment and does not include any information that could remain in the memory of the public.”
The expert also suggested that the guests of similar programmes might have a desire to appear in the programme, to gain more fame and be in the spotlight.
Moreover, she commented on Wahba saying, “She is a good anchor woman and she has a unique personality, but I do not know what is her goal from working on such a programme.”
Film critic Andrew Mohsen said in press statements that “The public tends to like these programmes, over the past decades, as they always prefer to follow artists’ personal matters. People want to see the celebrity’s other side away from the red carpet and television cameras.”
He also said there is a relationship between the proportion of views and guest discussions in the programme of personal issues such as marriages and divorces, as people watch the programme to listen to these stories.
Mohsen agreed with Abdel Mageed that celebrities agree to appear in the programme motivated by fame, as perhaps one celebrity might not have enough artistic work to make him famous, while others are famous but do not mind speaking about personal issues to their public.
While some users and public figures have shown great support for the ban, others have rejected it believing that the show is great entertainment, and clarifies rumours for people.
Parliament member, Mohamed Farag, said that the programme is very distinctive and has a role in attracting viewers again for talk shows, and expressed dissatisfaction with the decision to stop the programme.
The member requested that the media council review its decision to suspend the programme for one month, saying that the ban came due to a violation committed by the guest who already apologised.
In a similar context, he confirmed that the media syndicate has no right to stop Wahba, as the syndicate’s general assembly has not been held yet, and accepted members so far amount to only 18.