Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- Minister of Culture and Information, Dr. Abdulaziz Khoja revealed Saudi Arabia’s intention to enact laws, regulation, and legislation for newspapers and internet websites. The most important of the proposed legislation is for websites to require official licenses to be granted by a special agency under the purview of the Ministry of Information.
Saudi Arabia will hold its first International Media Conference in Riyadh under the Patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz.. During a press conference Dr. Khoja confirmed the need for clear regulation and legislation with regards to websites and online journals as such controls will ensure that everything is run in the correct way. Khoja said “We hope to deter any dangerous [writing] that may be published in these newspapers and websites via this regulation. These issues have forced us to think seriously about enacting laws to regulate publishing and the media in this way.”
The Minster did not hide his concern at some of the things published under aliases or by organizations whose writers have found a fertile ground to writer whatever they wish due to the lack of strict and deterrent regulation and legislation.
The Saudi Minister of information also confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat the formation of an official committee comprised of members of the Ministry of Information and others to study the draft privatization project of Saudi television and the Saudi News Agency, following in the example of some other Arab countries. The Minister said “There is an official committee that is studying the project of privatizing some braches of the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information such as the television and the Saudi News Agency. This committee will complete its study soon…within a few months.”
The Saudi Minister of Information also disclosed that his Ministry was considering granting a number of radio license, and he also revealed Saudi’s non-objection to granting [publishing] licenses to newspapers that wished to set up offices in Saudi Arabia. However he linked the approval [of licenses] to studies conducted by the Saudi Journalist Association [SJA], as the SJA had asked the Ministry to carefully consider the granting of licenses whilst its studies were ongoing.
Khoja also confirmed that the first Saud Arabian International Media Conference would seek to take advantage of any studies and research into all branches of the media, as that due to technical developments the media now falls under the umbrella of information.