London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Bassem Youssef is a name that has been generating a lot of controversy over the past few weeks. On this occasion, however, the controversy is not over the broadcast of his popular satirical program, Al-Barnameg, but rather CBC TV’s refusal to do so.
CBC satellite channels, owner of the private Egyptian channel that airs the popular show, is now locked into a bitter legal dispute with the show’s production company, Qsoft.
Qsoft announced Sunday that it has broken all ties with CBC after failing to persuade them to resume broadcasting the show, and is taking legal action against the network over “financial and moral damages” for the abrupt cancellation of the show on November 2. The production company was angered by the excuses given by the channel for the cancellation, labeling the decision as a demonstration of the restrictions placed on the Egyptian press.
The company’s statement read: “Over the past few weeks, our company has silently and patiently endured the unfair campaign launched by CBC against the Al-Barnameg show, its host Bassem Yousef, and our company, trying to restrict the show’s substance. On November 1, although it had received the episode in a timely manner, the CBC channel refused to air the show’s second episode—an unprecedented measure in the media—and issued a humiliating statement defaming our company.”
“The CBC statement contained flimsy arguments and pretexts. . . . The arguments are incorrect and intend to justify the channel’s decision to arbitrarily suspend the show,” the Qsoft statement added.
However, CBC is also pursuing legal action on the grounds that Qsoft had not fulfilled its contractual obligations and also breached “the journalists’ code of ethics.” CBC’s chairman, Mohamed Al-Amin, confirmed to Al-Arabiya News that CBC has initiated legal proceedings against the production company.
The chairman outlined that there was no “ill will” between the channel and Youssef, narrowing the channel’s main concerns to the contractual disagreements with Qsoft.
Amin also hinted that CBC could resume broadcasting Al-Barnameg, a claim that seemingly contradicts previous statements made by both Qsoft and CBC. CBC legal adviser Taher Al-Khawli previously affirmed that there was no room for negotiation regarding the broadcast of new episodes.
CBC took Al-Barnameg off the air after the broadcast of just one episode, citing violations of the editorial policy by Youssef and his producers.