ERTU ‘owes’ $1.7bn

Egyptian state broadcaster ERTU is reeling under an enormous debt burden of some Eg£30.8 billion (about 1.4bn) according to a report in Al-Monitor.

Much of this debt is allegedly owed to Egyptian satellite operator Nilesat, which is also backed by the government. Moreover the ERTU has a reported 35,000 staff for its 23 on-air channels and stations.

A major part of the problem is that advertising support for ERTU’s cluster of channels has evaporated, and not helped by fierce competition from privately-owned entertainment and news channels from Egypt and elsewhere in the MENA region.

Last month Egypt’s Minister of Planning & Administrative Reform, Mdm Hala Al-Saeed announced a series of restructuring plans for the ERTU, starting with Egypt’s Channel 1 where new on-air talent have been hired.  Similar plans are in place for Channel 2, and Nile News, although local observers suggest that the restructuring plans are “superficial”.

Al-Monitor quotes the former dean of the Faculty of Media at Cairo University, Hussan Imad Maccawi, saying: “The restructuring plan shows an interest [on the part of the state] in the image, quality and ‘decor’ of state TV, but the content will not change. The new programs will not bring anything new or different from those on private channels.”

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