174 FM radio stations broadcast in 18 Arab countries
Not unlike the Sat TV boom, the Arab World is undergoing an FM radio station boom. The FM radio industry, which is local and not pan-Arab by definition, still has some regionally focused operators. The landscape is made up of local FM stations for the most part and the numbers are projected to sky rocket as more countries allow private FM radio operations in the coming few years.
UAE and Algeria have the most crowded state-owned FM radio environment in the region. The UAE leads with 19 radio stations operating under five networks. Algeria follows UAE with 17 radio stations operating under the states Radio-Télévision Algérienne (RTA) network. On the privately owned stations, Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq lead the region with 23, 17 and 10 operational private FM radio stations respectively.
In the recent past in the region, radio and TV were considered political tools of the state with government excreting total control on them. Increasingly, however, liberalization of radio and television is found in countries in the region, which encouraged many new entrants and additional involvement in the industry’s offerings. The boom in TV and radio was inevitable. In parallel to the SAT TV boom, radio stations adopted more variety towards the content distributed. Entertainment, music, cultural programs are examples of such adoption.
A new report, “FM Radio in the Arab World 2005” was released to the Arab Advisors Group’s Media Strategic Research Service subscribers on September 25, 2005. The 59-pages report, which has 32 detailed exhibits, provides a detailed analysis of the FM Radio regulations and landscape in the 18 Arab countries of Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, UAE and Yemen. The report includes analysis and profiles of every FM radio (private and government owned) in the region.
“Radio listening is popular and widespread in the Arab World. Arab Advisors surveys in Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia reveal that a majority of people listen to radio stations.” Ms. Lina Juma, Arab Advisors research analyst wrote in the report.
Egypt and Tunisia were of the first countries in the Middle East to allow private radio stations under a legal framework. Egypt launched Nile FM and Negoom FM in July 2003 then followed by Tunisia’s Mosaique FM in November. Furthermore, Jordan’s broadcasting media experienced partial liberalization in mid 2003 after the establishment of the audiovisual media law. Finally, the Ministry of information in Kuwait issued a legislation granting licenses to private radio and Television stations in the same year.
Consistent with the liberalization trend, in year 2004 Oman was next in line to offer licenses to private TV and radio stations. Up to date, Syria was the last country to pursue liberalization. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia is presently planning to privatize some public radio stations.
- Pan Arab FM Radio stations’ advertising rates far exceed those of local FM stations.
- Governments still dominate the Terrestrial TV landscape in the Arab World.
- Morocco to open new radio stations and TV channels
- Jordanian Government Paves Way for Private Radio, TV Stations
- UNESCO Backs Project to Set up Independent Radio Station in Jordan