Kingdom has full control over Saudi Arabia Media
Saudi Arabia media system is dependent and controlled by the government and law enforcement departments of the country. It is the state of the population around 32.9 million with 80% of them are internet users. It means more than 95% of them have access to either print media, electronic media or social media.
According to the “Freedom on the Net” Internet freedom in Saudi Arabia declined in 2018 amid an escalating intolerance for all forms of political, social, and religious dissent. In the last couple of years, they arrested bloggers and users of Information communication technologies. The government of Saudi Arabia also blocked Political and social content from the internet. The recent survey also shows that Freedom in the World Status of Saudi Arabia is: Not Free
Journalists are not allowed to work freely
Saudi Arabia is following Authoritarian theory among the four Normative Theories of the Press. The media system is controlled from the start of the press in Saudi Arabia. Mostly newspapers and news channels are privately owned but subsidized and regulated by the government in Saudi Arabia. The media law of the country says that the media role is to educate and inspire national unity.
At the same time, other International media houses and journalists claimed that the media system of Saudi is controlled. It is owned by the government directly and indirectly. They are not free, also they cannot report freely, they are dependent on the government instructions. They are forced to work under the authoritarian theory.
Saudi Arabia is the state with one of the most censored media environments in the whole world. All the content is to be approved by the government before appearing in front of the public. Media houses cannot air anything without the permission of the government. And if we talk about the press. It is mostly owned by private media houses by for every newspaper editor-in-chief is appointed by the government.
In this tightly-controlled media environment where no one can criticize in the form of writing or talk about the government. Royal family and religious leaders and their beliefs. If someone or even any journalist trying to criticize any of them get banned and media house closing in the kingdom. And if citizens try to find out some censored news from the satellite then it is also not allowed and doing this act is considered as illegal. No one is allowed to own a satellite dish in the country, the skyline of every city is dotted with them on people’s rooftops.
In Saudi Arabia Number of users are increasing everyday who are switching from traditional media and press to social media or International media.
All the Multiple forms of a media system including books, writings, newspapers, news magazines, controversial films, electronic medium, and content published on the digital media are censored in Saudi Arabia. The government monitors very strictly on the media of the country even they take citizen journalism very seriously. In recent year’s couple of people arrested. In 2018 Saudi Arabia is ranked as 169th out of 180 countries for “Freedom of the press”
As per the authoritarian theory, they described that all forms of communications are under the control of the governing elite or authorities. It be can observe all the essence and attributes of it in the media system of Saudi Arabia.
Censorship in Authoritarian theory is based on Political censor, Moral censor, Religious censor, Military censor, and corporate censor. If we relate this with media system of Saudi Arabia then we can see that all these elements are present in it. All the information and news have to be verified by the government authorities. No media house is allowed to share anything with official approval.
Suppression of independent media houses
There are multiple cases where the government arrested and killed people who are trying to raise their voice and criticizing the state. In September 2018, Saudi Arabia prosecutors ordered five human rights protesters to be sentenced to death over their political activism. In 2012, the prominent Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was sentenced to 10 years behind a bar and 1,000 lashes after he was convicted of cyber crimes.
They also arrested a couple of people belonging from the royal family who was bashing Saudi government. Because of their performance and agendas but the later government claimed that they arrested them in the corruption. They further manipulated and said they were involved in the corruption and other anti-state elements.
Recently Saudi Arabia censored the content of Netflix because they feel attacked. So, they blocked it and it was removed from their website for the viewers from Saudi Arabia. The media system is totally controlled. Because of this, they did not show any controversial case of the Saudi government with other countries in recent times.
For example, Media played a role of government spokesperson and narrate the agenda of the top leadership on the incident of Jamal Khashoggi’s murder in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey on 2nd October 2018. Online censorship in Saudi Arabia was also seen as very intense and strict on this incident no one was allowed to talk about this.
Freedom of expression under Mohammad Bin Salman rule
After the appointment of the crown prince Mohammad Bin Salman in June 2017. The number of journalists and bloggers in Saudi prisons has doubled. Some of the journalists were disappeared in a way that after some time they reappear but in the prison of Saudi Arabia. An arresting person related to the press and media is not new it is like a custom. Media system is not functional at all, they have to work dependently otherwise they can lose their jobs, even they can lose their life as well.
Media system and structure is Paralyzed in terms of working freely. All the media and press is following Authoritarian theory from the normative theories of the press. They are lacking all the elements related to: Freedom of information, freedom to speak, freedom to write and freedom to express. But what they are following is all the attributes of the authoritarian theory or maybe worse than those.