FILE – In this Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014 file photo, Egyptian Satirist Bassem Youssef speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Cairo, Egypt. A Saudi-owned satellite network said on Saturday, March 8, 2014, that the signal of its Egyptian affiliate deliberately was jammed while it aired the country’s top satirical program, Bassem Youssef’s show, called “The Program” in Arabic. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty, File)
CAIRO (AP) — The signal of a Saudi-based television network was deliberately jammed while airing the show of Egypt’s top satirist, the broadcaster’s spokesman said Saturday, the latest disruption to hit the popular program.
Bassem Youssef, often compared to U.S. comedian Jon Stewart, has often stirred controversy and sometimes faced legal challenges over his skewering of Egyptian politicians and media personalities. MBC Masr’s signal was jammed while broadcasting Friday.
Spokesman Mazen Hayek said the network’s satellite carrier identified small satellite transmitters in two Cairo locations as the cause of the jamming during Youssef’s show, called “El-Bernameg” or “The Program” in Arabic. Hayek said it was not possible to identify who was behind the jamming or where exactly it emanated from.
“It is a form of terrorism,” Hayek told the Associated Press on the phone.
The Saudi broadcaster began airing Youssef’s show in February after another private channel suspended it last fall for attacking “symbols of the state” in an episode in which he ridiculed a surge of nationalist sentiment.
Authorities investigated him for the episode, aired on the Egyptian network CBC, over charges of disrupting public order and insulting Egypt and military leaders.
After his return to the airwaves, Youssef continued to mock pro-army commentators and took a jab at a military claim to have found a cure for AIDS and Hepatitis without providing scientific backing.
In the latest episode Friday, the screen froze then blacked out for minutes several times.
In the episode, Youssef mocked media personalities and politicians who argue that Egyptians are not ready for democracy.
The channel put out a statement shortly after the show, saying the disruption on its Egyptian affiliate also affected other channels and was reported from many spots around the Arab world.
Several channels, including Doha-based Al-Jazeera, faced similar jamming during mass protests that swept through the Arab world since 2011, toppling a number of leaders.