Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- The outlawed Muslim Brotherhood Group has preempted the campaigning season for the Egyptian parliamentary elections, scheduled for November, and launched an advertisement campaign explaining its election platform and the history of the group in a video program aired for two hours yesterday on its internet site.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian Radio and Television Union, in coordination with the Ministry of Information, is drafting a plan for the broadcasting and timing of campaign messages presented by political parties that will contest the upcoming parliamentary elections. The campaigning is expected to begin this month.
Sources in the Egyptian Ministry of Information have stated that campaigning on Egyptian television channels will take into account the need to ensure equality, both in terms of the duration and timing of the messages allowed for each party. Additional paid advertisements will be allowed, in coordination with all the agencies concerned, in accordance with the rules defined by the commission supervising the parliamentary elections, which is led by Justice Minister Counselor Mahmud Abu al Layl.
The cost of the paid advertisements for campaigning will be factored in for the purpose of calculating the expense ceiling for campaigning allowed for each party candidate, as was the case in the presidential elections. Leaders of the political parties will present their party programs according to which their candidates will run in the coming parliamentary elections.
Information Minister Anas al-Fiqi has stressed that a special committee will define the criteria of covering the parliamentary election, as was the case in the presidential election. He added that it is possible to dedicate a single channel throughout the campaigning season for this purpose in view of the large number of candidates. The coverage, he added, will be objective and free of exaggeration and will ensure equality among the parties.
In the meantime, the Information Ministry and the Radio and Television Union are inclined to freeze the approval of any applications to start private televisions channels during the present time and postpone the decision until after the parliamentary elections, for which campaigning will start next week.
Sources close to the ministry explained that making a decision on these requests and applications requires careful calculations; chief among them is the need for caution to prevent any opposition political current from taking advantage of a private television channel to badmouth other political currents competing for the elections, thus turning the channel into an important media tool to settle scores left behind from the presidential election or to personally defame the regime or one of the candidates. This, the sources added, could cause confusion among the Egyptian public.
As is known, there are two privately owned television channels in Egypt, Dream and Al-Mihwar. Both operate under a license from the Egyptian Radio and Television Union as well as other Egyptian government agencies. Media personality Imad aldin Adib owns a private radio.
Commenting on the television program posted on the website of the Muslim Brotherhood, AbdalJalil al-Sharnubi, editor of Ikhwanonline website, said that the video program will be broadcast daily for an hour and will include a visual speech by the General Guide or a member of the Guidance Bureau, a general feature, and a visual newscast. The program will air at 1300 and will be rebroadcast at 2300.
Al-Sharnubi pointed out that the program aims to link the group leaders to the street through visual programs and live broadcasts, particularly since the Muslim Brotherhood is not allowed to appear on the official television or on terrestrial channels.
The program comes amid preparations by the group to field 160 candidates to compete in the upcoming parliamentary elections in a large number of constituencies in Egypt, according to group sources.