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TV in hot seat over pranks
Published in The Egyptian Gazette on 31 - 07 - 2013

CAIRO - TV shows, involving pranks played on celebrities, have become all the rage in Egypt in recent years. The controversial shows have become part of the TV fare in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
One such programme is "Ramez Tutankhamun", hosted by Egyptian comic Ramez Galal and is aired on the private TV station Al Hayat. Another show is "Bedoun Zaal" (No Hard Feelings), hosted by anchor Riham Said and pop singer Saad el-Saghir and broadcast on Al-Nahar, which is another TV station. The latter show is based on getting on the guest's nerves to draw angry reactions.
The genre includes "Yaa Thawraa Ma Tamet" (An Incomplete Revolution) broadcast every day in Ramadan on the private TV Al-Mehwar. The programme hosts a celebrity whose talk is disrupted by a gang of fake gunmen who storm the location. Again the show-makers aim at exposing the victim's reaction. This type of shows has drawn condemnation from media experts.
Hamdi el-Konaisi, a veteran radio personality, dismisses these shows as ridiculous. He particularly panned the "Ramez Tutankhamun", saying it may have victims.
Unsuspecting guests are seen on the show entering an ancient tomb where they are suddenly trapped with snakes and bats. "They did not do it under the lure of money," said el-Konaisi.
"I think none of the guests would have accepted such programmes if they had been told beforehand,"el-Konaisi, a former head of state Egyptian Radio, told semi-official weekly Akhbar Al-Youm.
He criticised replacing political talk shows with mediocre entertainment programmes in Ramadan when viewing rates usually peak.
"Egypt is still at a crossroads and needs to enhance citizens' political awareness instead of inundating them with trivial serials and programmes," he said.
Safwat el-Alem, a mass communication professor at Cairo University mass communications, is disappointed at the Ramadan TV menu.
"There is a state of bankruptcy that prompts some satellite TV channels to air inane shows playing pranks on and making fun of guests. This underestimates the guest's history and wastes the audience's time," he added.
"I do not blame the producers of these programmes because they seek financial gains. I only blame the guests who agree to appear on these ridiculous shows, especially if these guests have high credentials in their fields," Sami el-Sherif , the ex-chairman of the Egyptian Radio and Television Union, told the Arabic magazine Nisfeldunia.
"It would have been better for television channels, whether private or state-owned, to broadcast something useful instead."

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