Channels cut drama shows in support of Friday protests

Nine privately-owned Egyptian satellite channels said Thursday they would halt broadcasting soaps and drama series on Friday during demonstrations called for by the army chief to support counter-terrorism efforts.

Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Wednesday urged citizens to take to the streets on Friday in order to grant the army a popular “mandate” to counter terrorism.

The controversial call comes amid surging, bloody violence between supporters of toppled President Mohamed Morsy and opponents.

Islamist politicians labelled his invitation as an instigation for “civil war." Several liberal groups have meanwhile backed the Sisi statement.

The channels said in a statement that they will halt the screening of drama shows aired especially for the holy month of Ramadan starting from 12 pm Friday until early Saturday.

The channels would devote vacant air time to broadcasting “a full picture of the voice and will of the Egyptian people in Cairo and all governorates on [the] historic day."

The statement was signed by Al-Hayat, Dream, al-Nahar, Sada el-Balad, CBC, ONTV, Mehwar, Tahrir and al-Kahera wal Nas channels.

Their decision came in response to an invitation by the Musicians and Actors Syndicate.

Edited translation from MENA