Egypt's TV media lacks neutrality, report says

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DCMF photo.


Electoral campaigns came to a close Sunday two days before voters go to the polls to choose Egypt's first democratically elected president since the fall of the former regime.
The two-day election silence follows a heated contest that last for three weeks and saw some media outlets accused of impartial reporting of electoral campaigns. A report published by the committee for monitoring election campaigns revealed that most satellite tv stations suffered from a lack of neutrality in their coverage of the run-up to elections.
"Some talks-show hosts and news presenters were open about their support to certain candidates as well as their criticism of others. They deliberately sidelined some candidates in their discussion of candidates' programmes," the reports stated.
The report noted that some journalists played a double role, doing their work as journalists while participating in their favorites' campaigns. They simultaneously covered the events for their different news networks and contributed to the planning of candidates' activities. The report underlined, in this regards, the need to enact legislations to regulate media practice during election time to ensure impartiality and accuracy of reporting.
The report cites cases in which presenters failed to live up to standards of professionalism and neutrality, like when Dream 2 presenter, Muna Shadli, expressed support to candidate Hamdain Subhi during a live broadcast.
Brahim Issa, anchor of On TV Live "Sada Murashahum" programme, poked fun at candidate Hamdain Subhi, teasing him and sarcastically hitting at his image. He talked about him disrespectfully, making fun of his name.
The chair of the committee, Safwatt Alem, told DCMF that this flagrant display of impartiality is due to lack of proper training, saying that the committee's report sounds the alarms about the urgency for media to be more professional and objective. Alem expressed hope that the disclosure of these flaws will put pressure on news presenter to improve their performance.
Monitors Without Borders Network issued a report on Egypt's electoral campaigns which showed that newspapers focused on cultural and political elite's views of domestic political development at the expense of voters views about candidates' programmes.
The report said this imbalance is due to newspapers' interest in the current political situation in the country, the political wrangling in the parliament and in the formation of the new constitution drafting committee.
The report unveiled that cable and satellite tv channels surpassed newspapers in their coverage of election campaigns and interviewed voters to gage their views about candidates and their programmes.

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