Saudis to Get Private TV Channels Soon
Saudi Arabia could soon see private television channels debut in the kingdom, Saudi minister of information, Prince Turki bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, was quoted by the Gulf News daily as saying Tuesday.
The minister indicated that Saudi authorities may soon allow private entrepreneurs to make an entry.
The move, seen as part of a gradual and overall relaxation of hitherto strict regulations on broadcasting, had become necessary, Prince Turki told the daily.
"I think it is a must, it is only natural and we expect to open this area up. We believe that private television should be encouraged," he said.
But any illusions that privately owned stations will not be subject to Saudi restrictions were squashed by the minister when he said producers and broadcasters of programs must be aware that it was being beamed from Saudi Arabia, and therefore must be in consonance with local norms, according to the paper.
Government owned Saudi Television currently broadcasts two channels.
Since the Gulf War in 1991, Saudi authorities have allowed CNN entry as well as a host of other satellite channels.
The information minister said his team does not block or censor any of these channels, but strictly monitors and vets the home channels which feature dramas and serials bought from other Arab nations such as Egypt, Syria and Lebanon.
Saudi Arabia does not officially own overseas satellite channels, but Saudi businessmen have not been reluctant to invest their millions in majors stations in the middle east such as MBC, ART and Orbit.
This week, media magnate Sheikh Saleh Kamel, owner of ART, signed a deal with the Jordanian government to set up a production and broadcast television company.
The City Media Company will have capital of 10 million Jordanian dinars (14 million dollars), rising over two years to 100 million dinars -- Albawaba.com