Middle East

Saudi Arabia profile - Media

Man walks past newspaper stand in Saudi Arabia Image copyright AFP
Image caption Saudi Arabia maintains tight control over the media

Saudi investors are major players in the pan-Arab TV industry, but the domestic media are tightly controlled.

Criticism of the government and royal family and the questioning of Islamic tenets are not generally tolerated. Self-censorship is pervasive.

The state-run Saudi Broadcasting Authority operates almost all domestic broadcasting outlets. The minister of culture and information chairs the body which oversees radio and TV.

Private TVs cannot operate from Saudi soil, but the country is a major market for pan-Arab satellite and pay-TV. Saudi investors are behind UAE-based TV giants MBC and OSN.

Saudi tycoon Prince Alwaleed bin Talal owns the Rotana entertainment media empire and has a stake in Twitter.

There are more than a dozen dailies. Pan-Arab papers, subject to censorship, are available. On sensitive stories, newspapers tend to follow the editorial lead of the state news agency.

There were more than 30 million internet users by the end of 2017 (InternetWorldStats.com). Widespread filtering targets material deemed to be pornographic, and Islam-related, human rights and political content.

The press law applies to all forms of electronic publishing.

Saudi Arabia is one of the largest social media markets in the Middle East. The popularity of social platforms has been driven by the high rate of smartphone use.

YouTube is the leading social media destination, followed by Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (Global Media Insight, 2018).

The press

Television

  • Saudi TV - state-run; includes news network Al-Ikhbariya

Radio

News agency/internet