Private Sector under Pressure
Since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi took office in 2014, he has gradually been excluding private owners from the media landscape in an attempt to reduce their influence over the sector.
Of the 41 media outlets surveyed by the MOM team, 15 still belong to businessmen (four newspapers: Al Masry Al Youm, Al Shorouk, Al Watan, El Fagr; six websites: Al Masry Al Youm Website, Al Shorouk portal, Al Watan portal, El Fagr portal, Sada El Balad News and Masrawy; the radio station Nogoum FM; and four television channels: Dream TV, Al Nahar TV and Sada El Balad, including MBC Masr owned by a Saudi businessman).
Inheritance of the Mubarak era
The influence of independent entrepreneurs investing in the media sector has grown in the last ten years of the Mubarak regime and in the first three years after the January 25 revolution. Relying on their political allegiance to Mubarak, wealthy individuals succeeded in launching television networks, publishing newspapers and setting up websites. These include: Al-Masry Al-Youm, Al-Shorouk , Al-Dostor, Al-Youm 7, El Fagr, Al-Hayah TV network, Dream TV, ON TV network and Al-Mehwar TV and other media outlets. Prominent businessmen and media owners at the time were Ahmed Bahgat, Salah Diab, Ibrahim Al-Mouallem, Naguib Sawiris, Al-Sayed Al-Badawi, Walid Mostafa, Hassan Rateb, Essam Ismail Fahmi, Taher Helmy and Emad El-Din Adeeb.
Soon after the revolution of January 25, private media were established and new names emerged in the field of media, most notably Alaa Al-Kahki, owner of Al-Nahar TV network, Mohammed Al-Amin, founder of CBC channels network and Ahmad Heikal, a shareholder of Al-Shorouk newspaper.
When al-Sisi came to power, these businessmen controlled the most prominent spaces of the Egyptian media landscape as the state-owned media, especially television, found itself in a spiraling decline.
Reshuffling the private media landscape
But since al-Sisi taking office, the situation changed dramatically as these private media empires have been severely eroded.
- Some of them were completely excluded from the media field. For example Al-Sayed Al-Badawi, head of the Wafd Party, lost his Al Hayat TV network to the Falcon Group after he had already sold his share in Al-Dostor to Reda Edward in 2010 who passed it on to unknown owners. Businessman Ahmed Essam Ismail sold all his shares of Soot El Omma and Ein El Mashaheer newspapers to EMG in 2016, Also, Saeed Hassassin sold AlAssmeh channels to Falcon Group, which later closed it.
- Some of them maintained a specific presence, though. Naguib Sawiris is not involved in the TV satellite market anymore but managed to retain the ownership of websites and an advertising agency. There have been attempts to stop Nogoum FM and exclude Taher Helmy from the radio market, but the private radio station is still broadcasting. Nogoum FM however increased the amount paid to the National Media Authority to keep their licence. Salah Diab, Ahmed Heikal, Ibrahim Al-Moallem are also maintaining their presence but are being challenged about the content of their newspapers and online publications.
- Some of them sold shares to the intelligence services to ensure their survival in the media market. For example, Mohammed Al-Amin sold 51% of the Future Media Company's shares to EMG in 2018. The possible deal of businessman Ahmed Bahgat with a state entity could also be part of such move.
Meanwhile, some businessmen support the current authority. This is the case of Mohammed Abu El-Enein, the owner of Sada El Balad who fully supports al-Sisi's policies. He had not yet to sell shares to keep his media activity running.
Dealing with State-owned media
On 20 January 2018, the Egyptian Media Group signed several protocols with the National Media Authority to launch a new satellite TV channel for the Arab region. It will be the first satellite TV which broadcasts throughout the Arab world aired through the Egyptian State-owned Nile Sat. The NMA and Egyptian Media also agreed to upgrade and develop content on state-owned TV's Channel 1 and Channel 2, as well as the Egyptian satellite channel Al-Masriya. According to the deal, advertising rights will be upgraded and developed. This extends the control of the Egyptian Media Group to the State-owned media sector, reinforcing the influence of the General Intelligence over the TV landscape in Egypt.