Whether through closure, censorship, surveillance, or cooptation, the regime in Egypt has effectively consolidated all platforms, publications, and programs in the country under an amalgamated political agenda of conformity. To understand how this unanimity was accomplished, it’s stability, and the prospects of change, we must zooms out to explore how the harmonized media discourses are sustained by a structural, legal, and institutional system. This paper situates the conditions in Egypt’s media environment within a larger framework of transnational authoritarian media consolidation that is entrenched across the Middle East and North Africa. Egypt does not exist in a vacuum. Instead, it impacts and is impacted greatly by its milieu, the region, and dynamics further afield, particularly in media production where hubs and powerhouses are heftily funded and wield substantial power and influence regionally—whether in Doha, Dubai, Istanbul or Riyadh. This paper shows how the regional media models that prevail today are two--a classic one which has direct governance, ownership, control, and management of both resources or a neoliberal statist model outsources media operations to private and semi-private corporations that produce content which appears to be fire-walled from the centres of power, exemplified by the use of satellite television and digital platforms. The strategy that was adopted involved doubling down on the neoliberalization of the media sector. To ameliorate risks, the state creates conditions that render the multitude of channels and platforms discursively harmonized through the centralization of messaging, increased governmental oversight, actual or perceived panopticon-style surveillance, and, where necessary, the “outing of sources” as a chilling effect to ensure conformity. This paper reviews the mechanisms through which these two divergent strategies contribute to what I describe as a neoliberal authoritarian media system in Egypt, and one that is rapidly becoming the regional model for state-media relations. It is fair to say that we are now, almost 10 years since Al-Sisi’s words about building arms in the media, that the model of neoliberal authoritarianism for this industry is now at its zenith. Furthermore, the state has also greatly benefitted from the very same neoliberal authoritarianism of other states and their shackling and control of their own oppositional Egyptian media voices—whether in Istanbul, London, or Doha.
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