Assilah, Asharq Al-Awsat – Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG), the largest publishing group in the Middle East, announced the creation and appointment of an independent board of trustees, whose task will be guarding its publications’ editorial independence.
The announcement came during SRMG’s participation in the Assilah Forum marking the 30th anniversary of the group’s flagship publication; the London-based international Arab daily, ‘Asharq Al-Awsat’.
With the creation an independent board of trustees, SRMG becomes the first Arab media group to have such a board, only 2 years after it became the first Arab media group to go public, when it became listed in the Saudi stock market in 2006.
Speaking at the 30th ‘Assilah Cultural Forum’ in Morocco, Prince Faisal Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz – Chairman of SRMG, explained that the Group’s board of trustees would consist of a diversified committee, whose members are both specialized and experienced, with different professional backgrounds.
The members of this board, whose names are to be announced within days, would help in assessing the editorial performance of all of the Group’s publications, Prince Faisal explained, adding that they will also evaluate the performance of the editors of the Group’s publications, and their commitment to the balanced editorial policies SRMG has adopted.
The following is the text of the speech delivered by Prince Faisal Bin Salman, “His Excellency and fellow brother Mr. Mohammed Bin Eissa and His Excellency Mr. Khaled al Nasseri, Saudi Minister of Communications, brothers and sisters and honorable audience, peace be upon you. It is a great pleasure to address you from this location, which for centuries has represented a bridge for communication and dialogue between civilizations and cultures.
Assilah, this noble city in our Arab history hosts an annual festival that is among the most important cultural events in the Arab world – I wish it prosperity and success always. It gives me immense gratification to welcome you here this evening to celebrate the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Assilah Cultural Forum.
The forum’s anniversary also coincides with the 30th anniversary of the founding of the pan-Arab international daily ‘Asharq Al-Awsat’ newspaper, which was established three decades ago in response to an urgent and pressing need to serve expatriate Arabs living away from their homeland and keep them updated on their region’s news through balanced reporting that is aimed at all Arab citizens – not just one state – whilst taking advantage of the technological advancements to ensure that it is printed in various cities worldwide. I believe that any observer following up on the history of Arab journalism and its developments over the past 30 years would find that ‘Asharq Al-Awsat’ occupies a leading position of considerable impact on the progress of the Arab press.
Brothers and sisters, the Saudi Research and Marketing Group pioneered in becoming the first Arab media group to be listed in the [Saudi] stock market. This development took place in the aftermath of the great successes achieved by the group’s publications, including ‘Asharq Al-Awsat’ newspaper.
SRMG possesses an integral structure of large-scale equipment, robust financial standing and strategic partnerships with international media institutions and it has not overlooked the preparation and development of its media cadres. Moreover, the Prince Ahmed Bin Salman Applied Media Institute was officially inaugurated in Riyadh three months ago.
The SRMG’s Board of Directors and its major shareholders have taken the initiative to establish an institutional system to manage the group’s activities in accordance with international standards to ensure equitable management. Therefore on this occasion, it gives me great pleasure to announce a decision that represents a qualitative leap in the Arab media industry that will entrench the general trend in which market forces and commercial considerations do not dominate over the editorial capacity in media and its aspirations.
The Board of Directors and the SRMG’s major investors are aware of the necessity of ensuring the stability of a balanced journalistic approach whilst protecting the media message and policies adopted by the group, in addition to guaranteeing professional independence through the creation and appointment of an independent Board of Trustees. The aforementioned board has recently been approved and the names of its members and details relating to its mode of operation will be announced shortly in the next few days, God willing.
The Board of Trustees will consist of a diversified committee whose members are among the experts and specialized elite in various professional fields who will assist in assessing the editorial performance of all the SRMG’s publications, in addition to evaluating the performance of the Editors of all the group’s publications and assessing their degree of commitment to the balanced editorial policies adopted by the group throughout the decades of its specialized media work. This will ultimately give editors more professional independence with a clear separation between, ownership, management and the newsroom.
Although the Saudi Research and Publishing Co. embraces this unique method in Arab media institutions and despite the Board of Directors’ knowledge and awareness that such an approach would entail withdrawing a number of powers granted to the Board of Directors and its Chairman – it comes through a recognition of the importance of the role played by the Board of Trustees and we will work to make the board’s job a success. Moreover, this approach is consistent with what is practiced by a number of international press and media institutions in Europe and America.
Dear colleagues, I would not be adding anything new by saying that Assilah Cultural Forum with its diverse cultural dimensions has achieved a striking success in fulfilling its goals and objectives. The credit goes to the people who made this forum happen and to whom I would urge to document the success of this festival by compiling the events of the symposiums in a book.
Peace be upon you and may you receive God’s mercy and blessings.”
For his part, Mohamed Ben Isa, Assilah Forum’s Secretary-General, praised Asharq Al-Awsat’s contributions to journalism and described it as the Arab publication that has regularly, effectively and widely contributed to promoting and consolidating the bridges of knowledge among Arabs globally.