The state-run Radio and Television Union had brought a complaint against Gohar last year after his outlet transmitted footage of anti-government protests in the Nile Delta.

The court ruled that the impounded SNGs, seized during a raid by Egyptian police, belonged to a French television channel.

Media curbs

The authorities criticised Gohar's outlet for distributing footage of protesters tearing up posters of Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president.

Human Rights Watch, the international rights group, accused the Egyptian authorities of enforcing media licensing laws to punish the company for distributing anti-government material.

"The government has already attacked several satellite news channels, apparently because it doesn’t like the news they transmit," Joe Stork, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa division at Human Rights Watch, said.

Egypt has introduced stricter guidelines for satellite televisions.

Satellite television channels are stipulated to stay away from broadcasting transmissions that "negatively affect social peace, national unity, public order, and public morals" or “defame leaders, or national and religious symbols [of other Arab states]."