Saudi Press Trends 2008

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WAN is World Association of Newspapers non-profit organization found in 1948. The organization has several objectives such as defending and promoting press freedom globally, contribute to the development of print and digital news publishing, and promote co-operation between its members worldwide (according to their official website).

WAN conducts the World Press Trends report annually and sell it to the news agencies worldwide which explains why I failed to obtain the new report for 2009 because I am not willing to pay for.

Luckily, I found part of this report which talks about Saudi Arabia with multiple facts which I find these interesting to be exposed and worth buying it for the concerned organizations.

The part starts with the general economics situation of Saudi and elaborate on how the country’s economy is shaped.

General economic situation
Saudi Arabia has an oil-based economy with strong government controls over major economic activities. It possesses more than 20% of the world’s proven petroleum reserves, ranks as the largest exporter of petroleum, and plays a leading role in OPEC. The petroleum sector accounts for roughly 75% of budget revenues, 45% of GDP, and 90% of export earnings.

About 40% of GDP comes from the private sector. Roughly 5.5 million foreign workers play an important role in the Saudi economy, particularly in the oil and service sectors. Unemployment is high, and the large youth population generally lacks the education and technical skills the private sector needs. Riyadh has substantially boosted spending on job training and education, infrastructure development, and government salaries. The inflation rate  was estimated at 3.4% in 2007.

Reports also elaborate more on the media part since it is main objective of that organization.

Performance of newspapers vs. other media
The media in Saudi Arabia have in recent years witnessed a gradual liberalization, due to the influence of
satellite television and the Internet.

The government owned and operated most domestic television and radio channels. In domestically broadcast programs, government censors removed any reference in foreign programs and songs to politics, religions other than Islam, pork or pigs, alcohol and sex.

Private, Saudi-owned satellite networks operated freely in the country. Local offices of the MBC, Orbit and ART media groups, while headquartered outside of the country, operated under a system of self-censorship. Many other foreign satellite stations broadcast a wide range of programs into the country.

Advertising

The report exposed an interesting part about the most viewed news TV channel which was Al-Jazeera with 65% of the Arab viewers, followed by Al-Arabiya, LBC, MBC1, Abu Dhabi with 34%.

Some alleged that Saudi Arabia is attempting to dominate the world of cable and satellite television media in the Arab world and steal the thunder of Egypt, once the leader of Arab media in the 1950s and 1960s with its Arab nationalist political ideology.

I guess this part explains how to influence the media similarly to what is happening on the West.

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As some 40-70% of the pan-Arab region’s advertising is spent in Saudi Arabia (estimates differ), 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. Al-Jazeera discovered this to their cost. It is claimed that Saudi Arabian companies will not advertise on Al-Jazera for fear of annoying the Saudi establishment.

Top Paid

The report ends with multiple statistics about concerning the GDP and companies advertising through the vast kind press agencies.

WORLD ASSOCIATION OF NEWSPAPERS – WORLD PRESS TRENDS 2008

http://www.warc.com/LandingPages/Data/NewspaperTrends/PDF/SaudiArabia.pdf

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