Sunday, June 13, 2010

Letters from Egypt: World Cup Blow Up

For the next match we have ERTU coming all the way from Egypt and Al Jazeera Sports weighing in from Qatar as what is sure to be one of the most highly anticipated events this season. It has been a common theme here to find difficulty in the simplest things, even like watching the World Cup.

Air time was cut in Egypt during the opening match of the World Cup held on Friday, June 11 between host country South Africa and Mexico. Many of us gathered around for the highly anticipated match between England and the US on Saturday, arriving at our destination around 4 pm to secure a good seat. The Nigerian/Argentinean game got underway at 5 pm Cairo time, only for everyone in Egypt to miss most of the first half (including the one and only goal scored).

The Egypt Radio and TV Union (ERTU) has started legal actions against Al Jazeera Sport, the owners of broadcasting rights to the World Cup airing. ERTU has accursed the Qatari channel of breaching three articles of the agreement it signed with the union by cutting the air time. However, Al Jazeera has said that the Egyptian satellite company, Nile Sat, had intentionally hindered the transmission in order to cause a government crisis. It is also reported that Al Jazeera filed a lawsuit a day prior to ERTU's claims.

Al Masry Alyoum reported:
Eng. Salah Hamza, head of the engineering sector in Nile Sat, said that the satellite had provided the Qatari channel with two additional frequencies in case of transmission interruptions, also also revealed that Nile Sat had contracted two outstanding firms to help trace any jamming. He added that the body responsible for the interruption of the signal is probably a terrestrial station. Hamza declared that the satellite is currently cooperating with the channel to figure out the identity of the jamming source.
Abdel Rahman el-Sawi, professor of communication at Helwan University, said that the standards adopted by the international association prevent such airing breaches, noting also that Egypt does not possess the means to change or repair frequencies, and that such controls are in the hands of the French manufacturer. The professor accused al-Jazeera of creating the fuss. Evidence of this was seen when they immediately solved the problem.
Thus, the International Communication Association is opening an investigation into allegations from both sides with results to be released shortly. Although the organization is based in Geneva, Switzerland, when dealing with any squabble between Arab countries, you can go ahead and bet the results are going to be delayed (hence the word “shortly”). In order to investigate, the ICA is going to be bombarded with a he said/she said debate that is undoubtedly going to wear down the ICA team and neither the ERTU nor Al Jazeera Sports is going to readily release ALL information needed to conduct a proper investigation.

And that is coming from my personal observations here in Egypt dealing with any business transaction locally. I can only imagine, although I don’t want to remotely contemplate, the heightened level of difficulty bringing Qatar into the mix.

**Disclaimer** None of these news sources should be counted upon entirely as I am unfamiliar with Yaliban and know that Al Masry Alyoum has numerous errors. Unfortunately, at the time of this posting, I was unable to find a more reliable source. So please continue to look up factual sources/sites such as ICA's website.

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