The recent launch of Eshail 1 into orbit could help Qatar “fight Egypt politically” and woo channels and customers away from Nilesat, media experts have told a leading Egyptian newspaper.
Qatar’s first satellite, which was launched into space last week, officially goes online next month with the aim of improving communication services and internet and TV broadcasts in Qatar and the Gulf.
Es’hailSat, an independent company that was formed to manage the satellite and Qatar’s presence in space, has also said that its priority will be broadcasting Qatar-based channels and those run by Al Jazeera, a major customer.
That the satellite can counter jamming signals like the one the Egyptian government is using against Al Jazeera’s Mubasher Misr (Egypt Live) channel is just the beginning, a Nilesat board member said.
Speaking to Al Masry Al-Youm, Osama Heikal, who is also Egypt’s former Information Minister, said:
“Qatar wants to control the Arab region through media, which is the mouthpiece of the people, and therefore launched this satellite which could attract some countries by giving them financial privileges.”
Other media experts said channels would think long and hard before switching to another satellite because they don’t want to lose viewers. Nilesat currently offers more than 400 channels. Qatar’s satellite plans to offer some 100 by December.
But Laila Abdel Meguid, Dean of the Faculty of Information at the Canadian University of Al-Ahram, said the competition could be a welcome one, as many channels on Nilesat can be difficult to access in Egypt.