On Monday, TV talk show host Liliane Daoud announced the end of her contract with television channel ONTV, shortly after which she was deported to her home country of Lebanon, sparking much debate in media circles. ONTV, which is now owned by businessman Ahmed Abu Hashima, is embarking on a new period of management policy, a period that coincides with the loss of several of it’s most prominent media personalities.
The following report looks at five of the most prominent media figures that have contributed to making ONTVwhat it is today, but who have all departed for various reasons, either political or financial, or because of differences with the owners.
After leaving Qatari news channel, Al-Jazeera in 2009, Yosri Fouda started presenting his own show on ONTV called, “Akher Kalam” (The Latest Talk). At the time, he had decided to return to Egypt from Qatar saying that he wanted to be a part of the “crucible” that was reacting inside Egypt at the time. He said he didn’t know how this reaction was going to end but that he wanted to be a part of it nonetheless.
Fouda’s show on ONTV quickly became very popular, including his famous introductions that he opened his show with. The most prominent was the “Friday of Rage” episode, which was broadcast on the January 28, 2011, a now famous day of protests during the 2011 uprising. During this episode, Fouda said, “There’s no going back. The barriers between us and fear have been lifted and now we are in the middle of the whole thing. These are glorious days for Egypt and the Arab World. These are the days of rage. If the system falls in Egypt then all the other systems in the Arab World are doomed also.”
Protesters of the January 25 revolution recited Fouda’s words, who also writes poetry, while others called him a “shapeshifter” after his comments on Mubarak’s second speech during the revolution, in which he revealed that he had no plans to run for the presidency again.
During a telephone call with another show on ONTV, Fouda spoke of how Egypt must not forget Mubarak’s contribution to the October 1973 war. He added that Mubarak not running for the presidency was a good thing but that he was relieved to find that Omar Suleiman and Ahmed Shafik were still in the picture, calling them “the two homelands”.
After the January 25 revolution, the country saw the chaos of the first presidential election, in which Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, made it to the finish line along with Ahmed Shafik. Fouda hosted Morsi on his show and neglected to host Shafik, a move that angered Shafik’s supporters. Six months went by, and Fouda re-thought his position. During the events at Al-Itihadiya Palace, Fouda apologized to the nation, saying, “Today, I announce that I have stopped loving our president, because if I don’t, I might lose my self-respect entirely.”
And before people took to the streets on June 30, 2013, Fouda made certain comments about Morsi’s rule, while carrying a banner that said, “As long as Egyptian blood is cheap, then down with any president.”
He said, “We have become a joke told at the banquets of other nations. We have become a toy in the hands of terrorists, trampled under the feet of the many. This is the countdown to a full year of being a failed country, economically, politically and security-wise. And all we have are 100 martyrs, and thousands of wounded, jailed and depressed after their rights have been squandered.”
On the July 28, 2013, Fouda commented on the clashes that happened in front of the “Unknown Soldier” monument in Nasr City on his Facebook page, using the same words again. “As long as Egyptian blood is cheap, then down with any president,” he said
“My condolences," he continued, "They are all counted among the martyrs of this country,” adding that anyone who condones murder is condemned by God.
Some may wonder why Fouda made these comments on Facebook and not on his show on ONTV. His own explanation was as follows: “I wish I did not have to leave to received medical attention, but I will utter the same words wherever I am — As long as Egyptian blood is cheap, then down with any president.”
Then came the transitional period after June 30. Sisi came into power and Foda decided to put an end to his show at the end of September 2014, saying his last introduction on ONTV, becoming the first media personality to quit the channel.
He said, “Good evening and welcome to the last broadcast of Akher Kalam. It has been five years since the first episode of this show was broadcast on October 6, a date that is dear to all out hearts. During this time, we tried to stay committed to the truth, the truth as you see it and not the truth as determined by money or ulterior motives. We understood that the way to respect your minds and your intellect was to provide the naked truth and to be a watcher of those in power, with respect and courage.
"Did we make mistakes? Yes, who doesn’t. But we thank God that we corrected our mistakes, at a time when telling the truth came at a high price. We thank God for giving us a conscience and a loyalty to our homeland. We thank him for making us a bridge to those who worked hard, and a refuge for the oppressed. We shared with you some of the hardest times and some of the happiest times and at times we withstood struggles that were not within our power to deal with.”
He ended his speech by saying, “This program will now rest, will rest in your hands and in the hands of a very precious piece of this nation’s history and of the media’s path in this country. Allow me on this occasion to thank you for your time and your trust, and apologize to anyone who ever found us below their expectations. Pleasing people, all the people, is a near impossible thing, and our respect for the supporters of justice and those who love their country is something that cannot be affected by differences of opinion, and is something that is irreplaceable.”
She was the second to leave ONTV after years of presenting her show, “Baladna Masr” (Egypt is our Home). The last of her programs was “Gam’a Moanath Salem” in co-operation with German news network Deutsche Welle.
Maged became famous for her catchphrase of sorts, “I leave you hoping that you are well.” And her program “Baladna Masr” became very successful after the January 25 revolution. But when June 30 came, Maged disappeared from the media arena, to return with her new show "Gam’a Moanath Salem”.
However, her comeback was not successful. ONTV announced that Maged’s program was not canceled, but postponed until the channel was done with changes they were making to their infrastructure because of administrative issues. ONTV also announced that Maged’s show was going to be running in co-operation with Deutsche Welle, announcing that the content of the program was going to be studied by the channel before broadcasting.
In July 2015, Maged presented her resignation from ONTV, and her show was canceled. She commented, “There were pressures applied to me by the channel to make me leave.”
One of the most famous episodes of Maged’s show, which she co-hosted with Yousri Foda, was broadcast on the March 2, 2011. They hosted Ahmed Shafik, who was faced with criticisms regarding his policies by Alaa al-Aswany and Hamdy Kandil. Shafik’s government resigned hours after the episode was broadcast.
Ibrahim Eissa left the channel in October 2015. His reason for leaving was cited as “financial issues and political differences” with the channel. He revealed this information in the first episode of his new show on TV channel Al Kahera Wal Nas.
Eissa’s new show was called “With Ibrahim Eissa” and during the first episode he announced that the reason he returned to Al Kahera Wal Nas was that they paid him promptly every month, and that the channel’s ability to pay him on time shows that the channel was organized, serious about their work and good at abiding by schedules and guidelines.
Eissa added that he constantly needs to challenge himself to be a better journalist and present new information and that he needs people to see him in a different light. He described his nature as active, daring and restless and that his subject matter is always somewhat controversial.
He made a list of reasons of why he left ONTV for Al Kahera Wal Nas and presented them in a countdown obviously named “Top 10”, saying, “The sixth reason for my leaving ONTV is that Al Kahera Wal Nas is a lot more professional.”The fifth reason he gave for leaving ONTV was that he wanted to encourage researcher Islam Beheiry to return to his show on Al Kahera Wal Nas, saying that Beheiry’s voice was a daring voice and one that needed to be heard by people, because it was shocking and people needed to be shocked after decades of stagnation.
He said that his fourth reason for leaving was his late father’s love for media personality Osama Kamal, who hosts the show “Cairo 360” on Al Kahera Wal Nas. But the third reason for leaving was that “The owner of this network, Tarek Nour, is the artist behind the whole operation and he possesses many skills that can seriously create an impact in the media.”
Eissa continued that the channel is illuminating and has created dialogue, explaining that the channel possessed a clear stance on Egypt that was clearly geared towards fighting oppression.
Eissa revealed that his number-one reason for leaving ONTV was that Al Kahera Wal Nas had suffered through the rigorous changes in government, suffered through the Muslim Brotherhood, through the SCAF, and that every one of its members had always been committed to changing the country to the better.
In the last week of June 2016, ONTV ended its contract with media personality Gaber al-Qarmouty, citing differences regarding the changes being made to the channel.
Qarmouty spent about seven years of his life working with ONTV, and during this time gathered a huge audience because of his many attempts to bring normal people’s problems to the screen. In one episode, he dressed as a pilot in defense of EgyptAir. Another time, he dressed like a farmer, calling on President Abdel Fattah al-SIsi to intervene to help Egyptian farmers.
His show called "Manchette" was considered one of the first on a privately owned channel to deal in real journalistic topics.
Daoud is the most recent departure from ONTV, after five years on-screen. She started in June 2011, when she presented her show “The Complete Picture” that dealt with local political issues. The show was canceled when the channel was sold to Abu Hashima.
Last year witnessed the initiation of a group on Twitter that called for the departure of Daoud through the hashtag: #Lilian_must_go after her criticism of the imprisonment of political activist, Alaa Abd al-Fattah, who was given a five year sentence. In response to the call for her departure, she said, “I am not the first media personality to be subjected to a negative media campaign. But since when do you need to be an Egyptian citizen to discuss its political matters?”
After the end of her contract with ONTV this week, Daoud was arrested and then deported to Beirut.
News sites published the channel’s reasons for firing al-Qarmouty and Dawoud, saying, “The administration has decided to end the contract with media personality Liliane Daoud, and we reached a mutual agreement. Where al-Qarmouty is concerned, there were differences regarding one of the clauses in his contract that was entirely unrelated to political matters. The two sides could not reach an agreement regarding these clauses so al-Qarmouty decided to leave.”
Sources inside the Interior Ministry stated, “Daoud’s visa had expired and she had not presented a request for renewal. Immigration officers arrested Daoud and she was escorted to Cairo airport, so she could return to her country because of her visa infractions.”
A security source from Cairo airport said she arrived at the airport with a large group of security officers, preparing for her deportation.
Ziad al-Alimy, Daoud’s lawyer, said that eight men in civilian clothes broke into Daoud’s house and told her they were from the immigration department, and made her go with them so she could leave Egypt, not allowing her to make any calls.
Alimy added that Dawoud, “Ended her contract with ONTV and returned to her home. After that she was arrested by Immigration officers.” He said Dawoud’s daughter was the one who informed him of what happened.
“She did not enter Egypt on her Lebanese passport as it has been expired for a while.”
Alimy stated that he would be taking all necessary legal procedures regarding the matter.
Human rights lawyer Khaled Ali objected to the fact that Daoud’s house was broken into and that she was removed from her home in front of her daughter, saying that this was revenge against her media work.
Ali wrote a blog entry on his Facebook page: “As soon as she ended her contract with ONTV, Daoud’s house was broken into and she was abducted in front of her daughter, and until now we don’t know where she is being held.”
Ali added that Liliane Daoud is the mother of an Egyptian child and not allowing her a residency or even ample time to leave the country shows a backwards attack on her and her media work.”
Mohamed ElBaradei, Egypt's former vice-president, praised Daoud’s media work, thanking her for her professionalism, her honesty and her courage.
ElBaradei wrote on Twitter, “I give you thanks for your professionalism, honesty and courage. One day we will have enough self-confidence to understand that people have different opinions.”
Meanwhile, Yosri Fouda also uploaded a post on Facebook regarding Dawoud’s case, saying, “My dear colleague Liliane, you will remain in our hearts and minds. Truth deserves you.”