1952-1962 Ten Years of Broadcasting in Egypt

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On 23rd July 1962, the 10th anniversary of the 1952 revolution, the Egyptian State Broadcaster published a history of the Radio and Television under Nasser. It is an official publication and one that unquestionably presents an idealised (/propagandised) version of period. Because of this, it is a fascinating document of what the aims on Nasserist radio were and what image they wanted to present of themselves.

Radio seems to take precedence over Television and the first 255 pages of a 360 page book are dedicated to Radio, starting with a description of its role in the Liberation Movement. The speed which it could communicate, they said, meant that it was extremely important in times of crisis.

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The book then goes on to talk about what the Radio, under Nasser, went on to do. Most interestingly for me, there is a focus on the internationalism of the Radio. They were keen to emphasise how many different languages they broadcast in and for how many different peoples.

From the late 1950s they had programmes in English, French, Italian, German and Greek. The aims of these European broadcasts was, apparently three-fold: 1) To acquaint viewers with the Renaissance happening in the United Arab Republic. 2) To give them information about important touristic sites. 3) To highlight the important post-revolutionary developments in the politics, society, economy and culture in the U.A.R. (Points 1 and 3 seem pretty similar). All of this translated into programmes about foreigners visiting Cairo, a broadcast for children and readings of translated short stories. Here are some photos of the Italian Broadcasters:

Their outlook was not just European. It was global. As well as having a Studio and Office in Khartoum and several special programmes on Sudan, they boasted that their broadcasts were available throughout the world, including North America, South America, Africa, Asia and Australasia. They broadcast in 25 different languages including Amharic, Hausa, Kurdish, Somali, Hebrew, Pashto and more.

Here are the East African Broadcasters:

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Here, too, are the Kurdish, Bengali, Somali and Amharic presenters:

They were presenting an image of an internationalist  (if very male) radio company.

The message they give about the Television is a little different.

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The book emphasises the technical intricacies of television broadcasts and Egypt’s advances in this area. It also seems to be making an effort to put women at front and centre of the world of TV, both on-screen and behind the camera.

The outlook of the Television broadcasts, unlike the radio, are largely focused on Egypt. They cannot broadcast it across the world so do not have programming in different languages or aimed at different countries. There are Egyptian folklore programmes, Egyptian plays and music as well as ballet.

Intersectionality did not seem to exist in 1962 Egypt but, still, this book is a interesting embodiment of how Nasser’s government wanted to present their progress to its own citizens.

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