Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Increasing Opportunity or Danger? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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As millions of pilgrims practiced their religious rituals on the hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, telecommunications companies did not spare any efforts to be the form of communication between pilgrims and their loved ones all over the world. At the same great event, mobile phone services had launched the first televised transmission using 3G handsets, declaring the beginning of a new era in communication technology. This technology allows consumers to view the television screen outside of their homes.

It would seem that history is repeating itself quickly. People would wait hours in their homes to receive a phone call, but nowadays, everybody has a mobile phone in their pocket. This has been part of a technological and media plan, that one day, consumers would be able to carry television screens in their pockets.

Technology has certainly educated us over the past few years. We believed that technology was under our control only to find that we cannot grasp it. The internet has been the biggest political and social experience that has surpassed any other feature of the media or communication field. Nowadays, mobile phones have become a predominant means for media on which one can read e-mails, browse the internet and now, even watch televised programs.

As well as the profits gained by mobile phone services that are already the largest profit-making companies worldwide, the media will also witness a substantial increase in its services and audience ratings through new transmissions via mobile phone handsets exceeding the satellite television services. News in all its forms has become abundant to all of us.

The new service of television broadcasting through mobile phone handsets did not emerge overnight. The development of mobile phones began with built-in cameras and video recorders that can be watched at any time. However, over the past few years, these new facilities have allowed pornographic clips to be viewed. Mobile phones have become notorious for the exchanging of violent and pornographic material that has caused much controversy in conservative societies that would use its laws, police forces and finances to combat this culture. The mobile phone has suddenly exceeded all efforts of television, newspapers, magazines, films and other modern cultural mediums.

I believe that we have passed the age of cultural surprises and are entering a new era of less excitement. The transmission of televised programs through mobile phone handsets will provide television corporations the chance to broaden their audiences and increase their revenues. It could be translated into created works that present a better service for society that has been subjected to technological advancements that have influenced its customs, outlook and organizations.

Since the increase of satellite transmission, the media has not faced problems in means of transmission and its diminishing expenses, but rather faces the challenge of presenting useful, interesting and credible material.

I believe that the media will follow a corrective direction due to large investment in television broadcasting that would require a guaranteed development.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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