The press is now a lot freer than it was before the revolution. The English-language Egyptian Gazette (on Sat, the Egyptian Mail) carries agency reports, articles on Middle Eastern affairs and tourist features, but it’s pretty lightweight – you can read it in a few minutes. The same applies to the Egypt Daily News (w dailynewsegypt.com), though it’s more independent and has more foreign news. The English weekly edition of Al-Ahram has interesting opinion pieces on politics and international affairs, but tends to reflect official thinking.
Among the Arabic papers, Al-Ahram (“The Pyramids”, founded in 1875 and thus Egypt’s oldest newspaper), reflects official thinking, as do Al-Akhbar and Al-Gomhouriya. Other dailies with a party affiliation include the conservative Al-Wafd (“The Delegation”), the liberal Al-Destour (“The Constitution”) and Al-Da’wa (“The Call”), the journal of the Muslim Brotherhood. The left-leaning (and pro-revolution) Almasry Alyoum has an online English version at w egyptindependent.com and covers many issues not discussed in the rest of the English-language (or indeed Arabic) press.
Various British, US, French and German newspapers are available in Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Aswan, as are Newsweek and Time magazines. Elsewhere, however, you’ll be lucky to find even the Egyptian Gazette.
With a short-wave radio you can pick up the BBC World Service (w bbc.co.uk/worldservice), Voice of America (w voanews.gov) and other broadcasters. You can also pick up the BBC World Service on 1323kHz MW on the Mediterranean coast, in Cairo and, when conditions are right, as far south as Luxor or even Aswan, as well as on a number of shortwave frequencies.
A number of FM music stations have sprung up in Cairo in recent years, most notably the privately run Nogoum Radio (100.6FM), which plays mainly Arabic pop music. The other privately owned station, Nile FM (104.2FM), plays Western pop and has talk shows in English. State-run stations include the Music Programme (98.8FM), broadcasting folk and classical music, and Radio Nagham (105.3FM), which plays Arabic pop songs old and new.
Arab music channels with sexy dancing, or news from Al-Jazeera or Al-Arabiya, are staple viewing in coffeehouses. Foreigners may be shocked by their gory reportage, and bored by Egyptian channels, whose programming is heavy on local football matches, Koranic recitations and chat shows. Nile TV often has English subtitles, most notably with classic old Egyptian movies, and has news in English and French. Channel 2 often screens American films (generally after 10pm, or between midnight and 4.30am during Ramadan). It’s not worth paying extra for a TV set in your hotel room unless it gets cable or satellite and, even then, many channels will be Middle Eastern, though you might get the BBC, CNN, Star Plus or sports channels. Daily TV schedules appear in the Egyptian Gazette, whose Monday edition lists all the movies for the forthcoming week.