Media of Saudi Arabia

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Most newspapers are privately owned but are subsidized and regulated by the government in Saudi Arabia.[1] The "Basic Law" of the kingdom states that the media's role is to educate and inspire national unity, consequently most popular grievances go unreported in Saudi Arabia. As of 2013, BBC news reports that criticism of the government and royal family and the questioning of Islamic tenets "are not generally tolerated. Self-censorship is pervasive."[2] As of 2014, Freedom House[3] rates the kingdom's press and internet "Not Free".


As of 2006, the government has allowed some critical stories to be written by selected journalists. Although self-censorship continues to be a method of self-preservation for the nation’s media outlets, government censorship seems to be decreasing, especially on journalistic inquiries into crime and terrorism.[4] Newspapers are created by royal decree. There are more than a dozen dailies.[2] Pan-Arab newspapers from other countries are available but subject to censorship.[2] The government (BSKSA) operates almost all domestic broadcasting outlets in Saudi Arabia.[2] Censors remove objectionable material deemed offensive by the standards of Islam, including references to pork, Christianity and other religions, alcohol and sex.[4] Private TV stations cannot operate from Saudi soil.[2] Although government officials monitor Internet sites for material deemed pornographic, politically offensive, or anti-Islamic, Saudi Internet users can gain access to most sites by simply connecting through an alternative server. The government created an appeals process circa 2006 by which citizens can request that particular websites be unblocked.[4] As of 2014 there were 17.4 million internet users.[2]

Article 39 of the "Basic Law" of the kingdom states:

Mass media and all other vehicles of expression shall employ civil and polite language, contribute towards the education of the nation and strengthen unity. It is prohibited to commit acts leading to disorder and division, affecting the security of the state and its public relations, or undermining human dignity and rights.[5]

Pan-Arab broadcasting

Saudi media has influence outside of the borders of the kingdom, as the country is "a major market for pan-Arab satellite and pay-TV".[2] Saudi investors are behind the major networks Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC), which is based in Dubai, and Bahrain-based Orbit Showtime.[2] Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC) was launched in London, shortly after the 1991 Gulf War. In 1993 the entertainment, music and sport network Arab Radio and Television Network was founded by Saudi mogul Saleh Abdullah Kamel.[6] From 1994 until 1996 when it was pulled off the air, BBC Arabic Television channel was run by Rome-based Orbit Communications Company, a subsidiary of the Saudi Arabian Mawarid Holding.[6] It was launched again in March 2008 as part of BBC World Service. Saudi Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal owns the Rotana Group media entertainment conglomerate and in late 2011 acquired a $300 million stake in the social media site Twitter.[2]

According to As'ad AbuKhalil, (author and political science professor at California State University, Stanislaus), “It is now a taboo in Arab culture to criticize Saudi. Even [Lebanon’s] Hezbullah media is careful, and in Qatar media criticism has been going down, it has been very sensitive."[6] One reason for this caution is that journalists who run critical stories "jeopardize their future careers, particularly if they aspire to work for the higher paying Gulf and Saudi networks." According to AbuKhalil, “As a journalist today you cannot criticize Saudi – where would you work?”[6] Another is that "40-70% of the region’s advertising" comes from Saudi Arabian companies, organizations, etc. "Networks, TV channels and publications are not going to risk jeopardizing their cash flow by upsetting their prime advertising market in the region’s largest economy," according to Arab Media & Society.[6]

Social media

Saudi has a high rate of smartphone ownership. As of 2013, it has more than half of all active Twitter users in the Arab region (heavily used by clerics and members of the royal family), and the highest per-capita YouTube use of any country in the world.[2]

Television channels

Arabic daily newspapers

English daily newspapers

Malayalam daily newspapers

  • Madhyamam
    • Jeddah edition - January 16, 2006
    • Riyadh edition - December 10, 2007
    • Dammam edition - May 24, 2008
    • Abha edition - January 1, 2011[7]
  • Gulf Thejas
    • Riyadh edition - March 2011
    • Dammam edition - March 2011
    • Jeddah edition - March 2011[8]

See also


  1. ^ BBC article
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Saudi Arabia profile". BBC News Middle East. BBC News. 22 August 2013. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  3. ^ "Saudi Arabia". Freedom House. 
  4. ^ a b c Arabia.pdf Saudi Arabia country profile. Library of Congress Federal Research Division (September 2006). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  5. ^ "THE BASIC LAW OF GOVERNANCE". Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia. Archived from the original on 2014-03-23. Retrieved 2014-08-12. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Cochrane, Paul. "Saudi Arabia's Media Influence". Arab Media and Society. Retrieved 12 August 2014. 
  7. ^ "Madhyamam History". Archived from the original on 2013-08-24. 
  8. ^ "Indian regional daily launches Saudi edition". 
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