Renowned satirist and former television host Bassem Youssef has been fined LE50 million for breaking his contract with the privately owned CBC channel, the state-owned newspaper Al-Ahram reported on Monday.
Though the news only emerged on Monday, the ruling was issued in November, according to Al-Ahram.
Stating in its ruling that “the nation doesn’t need any satirical shows now,” the Cairo Regional Center for International Commercial Arbitration (CRCICA) ordered both Youssef and QSoft Ltd. — the company that produced his show, Al-Bernameg — to pay CBC LE50 million for violating their contract, for total damages of LE100 million.
The ruling is “ironic and unjust,” but legally binding, Gamal Eid — a lawyer and head of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information — told Mada Masr.
Eid argued the decision was clearly biased and political in nature. Youssef should not have been a party in the case, as the dispute was between the channel and the production company, the lawyer pointed out.
On his Twitter account on Monday, Youssef wrote that he has been dragged into a commercial dispute that he is not party of which pertains to CBC suspending his show.
It is also “questionable” timing for this news to be leaked, Youssef added.
On the official Bassem Youssef Show Facebook page, QSoft issued a statement saying it would refrain from commenting, and was adhering to a confidentiality agreement to avoid any legal questioning.
QSoft added that it reserves the right to sue parties in violation of the confidentiality agreement and ask for compensation.
Last year, QSoft announced it would take all possible legal measures against Future Group, which owns CBC, to obtain damages for the financial and emotional losses incurred by Al-Bernameg’s suspension.
The company accused Future Group of launching a campaign against Al-Bernameg, its host and QSoft in an effort to censor the show’s content.
CBC suspended Al-Bernameg on November 1, 2013 until “administrative and technical” problems were resolved, according to a statement from the channel. The statement said CBC’s board was surprised to find the content of that week’s episode was in “violation of what had been agreed upon.”
In his October comeback episode, Youssef had mocked ousted President Mohamed Morsi and those who still fought for his return, as well as the pro-military interim government and those who idolized the army.
Legal complaints started piling up against Youssef for insulting the military and employing sexual innuendos, as well as spreading chaos and threatening security by “insulting the June 30 revolution.”