Egypt’s public TV in huge debt
February 21, 2013
By Chris Forrester
Egypt’s Radio & Television Union (ERTU), which supplies the nation’s public broadcasting, is facing ever-increasing debt burdens. The latest numbers, released by the broadcaster’s Head of News is that ERTU now owes 20 billion Egyptian pounds (about $2.9 billion). The debt seems to have expanded by about 1 billion Egyptian pounds in the last year.
Ibrahim al-Sayyad, head of ERTU’s news division, says his own department’s debt includes $1.2 million owed to American wire service Associated Press, which had pulled the plug on supplying news footage until a portion of the debt was paid. The AP service had now been resumed. A separate debt of £80,000 was owed to cover training fees for young journalists working on Nile News, ERTU’s 24 hour news channel. But, according to Sayyad, the journalists left to work at private channels after the training.
One solution is to permit Nile News, one of the most-watched channels, to carry advertising, said Sayyad. The channel still hasn’t paid off its debt to convert and re-build its studios, which cost 187 million Egyptian pounds. 100 million Egyptian pounds had been paid but the balance was outstanding.