Satellite TV channel MBC Misr experienced a disrupted signal from the beginning of the sixth episode of satirist Bassem Youssef’s show Al-Bernameg.
Last week, the show was also interrupted, but only for a few minutes.
The Saudi-owned channel released a short statement saying they had faced “technical interference” during the airing of the show, and listed the new frequencies on which viewers inside and outside of Egypt could watch the episode. The words “deliberate interference” appeared on a ticker than ran along the bottom of the screen throughout the show on the alternative frequency.
The episode was then shown again from the beginning and there appears to have been no complaints of disrupted signal.
Youssef’s third season of the show resumed February 7 on MBC Misr after being canceled on Egyptian satellite channel CBC in November.
Quickly trending on Twitter in Egypt, there was running commentary on Friday evening, as people first confirmed there was a problem, expressed anger, and then started sharing a link on which the show could be watched immediately.
Some social media users suggested that the move makes the regime appear weak, as it is fearful of a comedy show. Attempts to stifle Youssef’s speech during Morsi’s presidency were met with a similar response, charging that he was a weak president if he felt so threatened by a comedian.
There was a certain amount of bemusement, wondering at the futility of the attempt to block the signal, given that the show can be watched on YouTube.
Many noted that the signal returned for the commercial break and then cut out again soon after Youssef started speaking. One Twitter user said this was because that money had already been paid, another, @Farida_Darwish, quipped that if viewers want to watch more than commercials, they are just being selfish.
Millions of people tune into Youssef’s program every week, which has moved from channel to channel following editorial and administrative differences with networks’ management.
In a typical sentiment of many social media users commenting on the show on Friday evening, mostafa_ashraf8 tweeted in Arabic, “Each time this happens, I am more convinced that Bassem Youssef speaks the voice of truth.”
“I am not accusing anyone, but I do wonder about the state’s inability to protect its satellite, which brings in profits, from being jammed for an hour by sources it cannot identify,” Youssef wrote on his Twitter account after the show was aired.
Youssef began the episode by talking about the continued controversy around the military-lauded cure for HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C, making fun of the media response and criticism. He then went onto to speak about Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam, ending by interviewing Hala Shukrallah, recently elected head of the Dostour Party.
The interview touches on the question of making decisions of the High Elections Commission immune from judicial review, the presidential elections as well as the conflicts within the Dostour Party that preceded the party’s recent elections and social justice policies.
Shukrallah said that the party will not nominate anyone to run in the presidential elections but will support a civilian candidate from the democratic camp.
She made mention of a Dostour member facing two different cases, one entailing charges of anti-Brotherhood activity dating back to the presidency of Mohamed Morsi and the second case on charges of pro-Brotherhood activity.
Shukrallah ended the interview by saying, “Over the past three years, there have been many dreams, and many young people have left us. The young people still in prison will be free and these dreams realized.”
In last week’s episode, Youssef poked fun at television presenter, Sherif Madkour. He made fun not only of Madkour’s politics, but also his voice and mannerisms as effeminate. Makdour quickly responded, addressing the issue on his show, asserting that people were free to say what they wanted, and if somebody does not like a television show — whether Youssef’s or his own — they can simply change the channel.