London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef and his controversial Al-Barnameg TV program are set to return to Egyptian television screens in February 2014, according to his father Judge Ra’fat Youssef.
The third series of Bassem Youssef’s hit weekly political satire show was suspended on November 2 by Egyptian satellite channel CBC TV after just one episode.
The private satellite channel remains locked in a bitter legal dispute with the show’s production company Qsoft. Despite this, it now appears that Al-Barnameg may be returning to Egyptian screens sooner than had been initially anticipated.
In comments carried by Egypt’s Al-Shorouk newspaper, Judge Ra’fat Youssef said: “Bassem has reached an agreement with a channel for Al-Barnameg to return to broadcast next February.”
Judge Ra’fat Youssef refused to specify which channel Al-Barnameg will be moving to, or whether Egyptians will ever be able to see the unaired second episode of the show’s stalled third season.
In his first television appearance in Egypt since the trouble with broadcaster CBC, Bassem Youssef earlier this month told ONTV that he had been approached by German TV channel Deutsche Welle, along with other local and foreign television channels, but specified he wanted the show to be aired on an Egyptian channel.
Appearing on popular talk show Akher Kalam [The Final Word] Youssef told host Yosri Fouda that he was “happy to believe” that the government did not have a hand in cancelling his show, instead focusing his discussion on the dispute with CBC.
In the aftermath of the show’s cancellation, CBC issued two seemingly contradictory statements. The first attempted to distance the channel from the show and its alleged “insult” of “Egyptian symbols.”
The second statement claimed that CBC had editorial and contractual issues with Youssef. For its part, the show’s producer, Qsoft, announced that it had broken all ties with CBC, taking legal action against the network over “financial and moral damages.” The production company was reportedly particularly angered by the justifications put forward by CBC over the cancellation of Al-Barnameg, labeling the decision as a demonstration of the restrictions placed on the Egyptian press following Mursi’s ouster.
Bassem Youssef told ONTV: “The fact of the matter is that after 30 episodes [under Mursi] the program wasn’t stopped. But it was stopped after one episode [after Mursi’s ouster].”
“If I express an opinion that is against yours, this doesn’t mean I am a traitor or an agent and I deserve the worst,” he added.
Google recently announced that Bassem Youssef was the most searched person in the Arab world in 2013. Youssef topped Google’s ‘Zeitgeist’ rankings as Egypt’s top trending person of the year, attracting more web inquiries than Egyptian army chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and interim President Adly Mansour.