Future of Egypt’s broadcasting discussed at UNESCO conference in Cairo
More than 70 media experts, academics and civil society representatives from Egypt and Europe gathered for the UNESCO-organized conference on 23 November 2011 in Cairo, Egypt. The event focused on the future of the broadcasting sector in Egypt and allowed participants to draft recommendations on this subject. The recent UNESCO study, Assessment of Media Development in Egypt, served as a resource tool for debates.
The conference in Cairo was chaired by Hafez El Merazi, famous TV presenter and media analyst. Tarek Shawki, Director of the UNESCO Cairo Office, outlined in his opening speech that, since the arrival of the Arab Spring, UNESCO's work in Egypt has been mainly focused on promoting press freedom and media development. UNESCO was the first UN agency to publish in September 2011 a post-revolutionary assessment of media situation in Egypt, based on best practices and internationally recognized standards. The study has been offered as a useful tool to local stakeholders, who are eager to move forward with improvements in Egypt’s media sector.
At the plenary session, Mohamed Gohar, CEO of the newly created TV 25 channel, focused on how the revolution is changing the media role in Egypt, offering a great opportunity to youth and citizen journalists to participate in the spread of information and defend freedom of expression. Amr Ellissy, a renowned TV journalist and winner of the UNESCO-IPDC Prize for Rural Communication, emphasized efforts that still have to be done in the public and private broadcasting sector in Egypt in order to shape a responsible, free and independent media system.
Participants were divided into working groups to discuss in depth freedom of information legislation, self-regulatory approaches in TV, public service broadcasting and creation of an independent regulatory body. Each group was chaired by a renowned media expert, such as Ragey El Merghani, co-chairman of the National Coalition for Media Freedom, and Yasser Abdel Aziz, a broadcast analyst and famous media expert.
Giacomo Mazzone, Assistant Director-General, and Olaf Steenfadt, Special Advisor for Media Development and Cooperation, both from the European Broadcasting Union, as well as Jens-Uwe Rahe, from Deutsche Welle-Akademie, and representatives of the BBC Cairo Bureau participated in the event and shared their experience.
As an output of the conference, recommendations will be produced to encourage greater efforts in strengthening free, independent and pluralistic broadcasting media in Egypt. The UNESCO study, Assessment of Media Development in Egypt, will serve as a valuable resource for drafting these recommendations, which are expected to be released in their final version by the end of 2011, together with the conference report.
The November conference was not the first event organized by UNESCO’s Cairo Office to discuss the future of the Egyptian broadcasting. It had been preceded by the high level seminar in October, which gathered many outstanding Egyptian TV personalities and managers: Mona Shazly, TV host and journalist of Dream TV; Albert Shafik, Director of the On TV and OTV; Lobna Assal, TV host of El Hayat TV, and others.