Riyadh Indications show that TV has become an indispensable part of Saudis’ life, way more than any other Arab nation. TVs are no longer confined to living rooms, but are now around several in most households. A trend that’s supported by Satellite providers that gives subscribers multiple receivers for the price of one.
Another example of Television’s dominance is the cafes all over Al Thumama that no longer do with one huge TV screen. Instead, a screen playing the most popular satellite channels is provided for every seating area occupied by a customer. According to the latest related surveys made last year by Arab Advisors’ Group, 89% of Saudi families own satellite dishes, 16% are registered in prepaid satellite channels from Orbit, Showtime, and ART.
Economic reports also show that advertisers consider the Saudi market to be the largest with regards to TV advertising.
The latest proof around TV”s popularity is Hisham Abdul Rahman, the winner of the second season of the “Star Academy” show on the LBC channel. Over night Hisham has become a household name and has reached what could be described as “Rock star” Status. This shows how far TV has invaded Saudi people’s every day life.
Khaled Al Form, head of Arab Media Society attributes TV’s popularity to the nature of Saudi society where youth represent the majority. “They are all eager for interaction of knowledge and entertainment, in addition to social and intellectual interaction. They satisfy this need through TV, as no rivaling alternative for interaction. Other studies show that Saudi children devote most
of their time watching TV.”
Al Form says this is also due to the lack of alternative activities whether sports or entertainment so they find satisfaction in the TV world. But whereas this popularity among Saudis is a good sign for those in the industry, Al Form warns against TV addiction, politics, TV series, and entertainment and its impact on the long run. The accumulative effect of the pictures and ideas it instills is a generation that believes in the TV world more than its social
reality, especially “sensitive” audience like children, adolescents, and senior citizens. The negative aspects of the phenomenon reflect on the health of the society and the solidarity of its social structure. He added that insensible use of TV would gradually have a negative effect on daily performance, beliefs, and behavior. Information and pictures develop into knowledge, and later become a form of behavior. And the audience is unaware that they are
exposed to calculated doses with an eye on influencing them politically and economically.
Worth mentioning is that a survey made on “Bara’em” Arabic website (its guests are the voters) shows that when asked to choose between Internet and TV, Saudi children would give up the Internet but for them “it is impossible giving up TV."