Tuesday,18 June, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1364, (12 - 18 October 2017)
Tuesday,18 June, 2019
Issue 1364, (12 - 18 October 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Different wavelengths

European Programme radio presenters worry their airtime will be slashed, reports Mai Samih

Egypt’s Radio and Television building in downtown Cairo
Egypt’s Radio and Television building in downtown Cairo

Radio presenters at Egyptian Radio’s European Programme fear broadcasts will be cancelled and freelancers laid off when air time is reduced by 12 hours.

The public service European Programme broadcasts in Greek, Italian, German, Armenian, French and English. Programmes in the first four languages are broadcast for an hour a day with the remaining service divided equally between French and English.

“We have been told by the head of radio that changes are afoot. They want us to broadcast between 3am to 3pm, hours in which most people will be sleeping or working. We are being excluded from peak listening time which is after 3pm,” says radio presenter Germine Al-Wardani.

“When we challenged the radio head she said it was just an idea but they want to give priority to Arabic programmes.”

Egyptian Radio denies it plans to cut airtime. Sherif Abdel-Wahab, head of the cultural network at Egyptian Radio which includes the European programme, told Al-Ahram Weekly the cuts were only proposals.

The National Media Organisation (NMO) issued a statement last week saying there are no plans to cut the European Programme. The proposal, it said, had been raised as a suggestion to be considered by head of Egyptian Radio Nadia Mabrouk. It stressed that staff would not be affected by any future development plans. 

“It is odd that a country keen to build its soft power should even be considering cuts in foreign language programming,” says TV and Radio Presenter Osama Kamal who read the NMO statement on his show.

The European Programme was established in 1934 and has provided a platform for many talented radio presenters. “Sweet and Sour”, “A Tale to Remember” and “The Breakfast Show” are among its most successful programmes.

Al-Wardani extols the European programme’s role in providing a showcase for other cultures. “I get positive feedback from foreign communities all the time,” she says, about programmes that introduce cultures such as those of India, Latin American and African countries to the Egyptian audience and broadcasts that provide a platform for the less mainstream music and culture of groups such as Nubians and Siwans.

The programme not only caters to sometimes marginalised ethnic groups but also serves to introduce Egyptian culture to diplomats and intellectuals in a variety of languages, says Al-Wardani. 

“I really do hope this is only a rumour. I love this station and it would be a shame to limit its airtime,” says listener Hisham Al-Sarraf.

Ali Kamal, another fan, says there is no longer any broadcast in Sharm El-Sheikh where he lives, let alone in the rest of Sinai where many foreigners work and live.

“This is the only station I listen to. The presenters raise interesting issues and have clearly researched the subjects discussed,” says listener Susana Parmenter.

Feedback on social media, says Al-Wardani, shows the station still has a lot of listeners despite technical problems which mean broadcasts are absent in several governorates.

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