State TV official: Maspero coverage host should reveal who incited her

A state TV official has asked the host of a state-run channel to disclose the name of the official she has accused of being behind the breaking news of violence at Maspero last Sunday.

Ibrahim al-Sayyad, chief newsroom editor of the Egyptian Radio and Television Union, asked state-run Channel One TV host Rasha Magdy to disclose the official's name.

The way that state TV covered the news of the Maspero violence angered viewers, who accused state TV of intending to cause sectarian strife.

As events brewed around the Maspero state TV building after a Coptic march turned into a violent assault, Magdy told viewers that Egyptian soldiers were under attack and their fellow citizens should take to the streets to defend them.
Magdy repeatedly emphasized that Coptic protesters were attacking soldiers. She started her broadcast by apologizing for not being able to host the families of military martyrs of the 1973 war because of the unfortunate events, and went on to say that “the same troops that fought the war and sided with the revolution earlier this year are under attack as we speak.”
"We should not utter words and leave them at face value, we live in an age of transparency," Sayyad said in a statement to Al-Masry Al-Youm.
"Why didn't Magdy disclose the name of the official who caused the disaster in her phone call to the '10 pm' news talk show, so that he could be held accountable?" Sayyad asked.
Everyone understands the victims' families feelings and cares for their country, he added.
Magdy knew very well what was happening outside Maspero because she had a screen in front of her displaying the event, and she was not separated from the real situation on ground as she claimed, Sayyad said.
Sayyad said that when he reviewed the tapes broadcasted Sunday night, Magdy appeared so moved by the events that she expressed her own point of view.
The editor said he always gives instructions to broadcasters to be neutral toward all parties, as the broadcaster should not be a party in any event, according to the rules of the profession. He continued on to say he suffers a lot from state TV hosts who typically disclose their own viewpoints.
"I do not blame [Magdy] for the news she received, because she is not responsible for what she reads. There are editors-in-chief and copy editors to write down the news, but due to the presence of so many sources, including Arab and foreign news agencies and reporters, this might have caused errors that could be corrected quickly," he said.
"There is a great difference between saying 'a group of Copts' and 'a group of people.' We broadcasted what was happening outside the Maspero building using four cameras in different direction," said Sayyad.
The acceleration of events forced state TV to cover the event in this way and make such errors, and all channels quoted state TV, as it was near the site of the event, Sayyad said.
Moreover, state TV was short of broadcasters, and many refused to air the event due to the sensitivity of the situation. It was also dificult for employees to remain separated from the event, and despite that, broadcaster Ashraf Abdel Halim – who knew his car was on fire in front of the building – remained as neutral as possible and controlled himself, Sayyad said.
As for the news ticker, Sayyad said: "We first wrote 'Coptic protesters throw stones at army forces,' but we changed it within minutes to 'Demonstrators throw stones at army forces' without identification."
Sayyad said state TV does not deny that it committed mistakes, however, it is important to note the organization recognized this error and corrected it quickly.
Sayyad said he kept all the tapes broadcasted on Sunday night, including the footage of the armored vehicle that was moving randomly among demonstrators.
He said he is prepared to be interrogated, stressing that he did not violate his conscience and that he is ready to resign from the post if he proved accountable for the broadcasting errors.
Translated from the Arabic Edition

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