The Egyptian government is trying to prevent supporters of ousted president Morsi from taking to the airwaves in Cairo. To accomplish that the Egyptian Radio Television Union is “loading” the FM dial with stations on every available frequency playing religious music or readings of the Quran, according to Ahram Online.
Pro-Morsi protestors were set to launch an unlicensed station called “Here is Rabaa,” named in reference to the sit-in protest at the Rabaa Al-Adawiya Mosque in Cairo’s Nasser City.
This tactic is tantamount to jamming the station, since the goal is to prevent it from being received clearly, rather than broadcast other programming of value. If the station is still broadcasting it is likely receivable within the confines of the tent camp that’s gone up around the sit-in. Due to the nature of broadcast signal propagation, it would be difficult, but not impossible, to jam the Rabaa station so close to its transmitter. However, it is also likely that the station is not easily received more than a kilometer or so from the transmitter, which is probably the primary goal of the ERTU jamming.
The ERTU is Egypt’s government supported public broadcaster, and controls all FM radio frequencies in the country. Its chairman told Ahram that the organization refused to sell any licenses at a recent auction out of fear that they would be “wrongly exploited.”
A Reuters story dated July 8 reported that Egyptian Republican Guards were stationed at state radio and TV stations. It is unclear whether or not those guards are still present, or if there has been any direct military intervention in broadcasts.
Radio is clearly an important medium for information and propaganda in Egypt, and it is often is in regions of conflict. Just like Egypt’s delicate fledgling democracy, it appears that media democracy in Egypt is also fragile. The two go hand-in-hand.