Talking to the Mirror

You are probably familiar with the name of Abdul Rahman al-Hazza by now. Al-Hazza is the deputy minister of information and culture who made the headlines a couple of weeks ago when he announced that Saudi bloggers need to register their sites with the government, before retracting his comments saying registration won’t be required but is highly encouraged.

Al-Hazza writes a column for Okaz newspaper where he occasionally says things that make no sense, especially coming from a government official.

Take for example his piece today: Al-Hazza talks about how Saudi Arabia has a very small number of journalists compared to the size of its population. He then goes on to say that the country needs more newspapers, radio stations, and television channels. He complains how we, and not I’m not sure exactly what he means by ‘we,’ only think about big newspapers and big television companies, asking: why there are no small regional newspapers, and why there are no local radio and television channels?

Huh?

You would think that Abdul Rahman al-Hazza, as a senior official in the Ministry of Culture and Information (MOCI), should know the answers to these questions, or at least is working to figure out the answers. As a fresh journalism student, I can’t claim that I know the answers for his big, open-ended questions, but I think I do have a teeny tiny pointer to offer: look at your own ministry!

When MOCI, after 3 long years of stagnation, finally decided to grant licenses for new radio stations to operate in the country earlier this year, the average price was around SR50 million. Just imagine what is the licensing costs for a newspaper or a television channel. I simply don’t believe that the ministry is serious about opening the space for more media outlets in Saudi Arabia.

As the debacle of the new law for regulating so-called “electronic media” showed, they are obsessed with control, and allowing more media outlets in the country means they will have to put so much more work into censoring and controlling these outlets. Why would they won’t to create a headache to themselves?

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6 thoughts on “Talking to the Mirror

  1. To basically link back to the article saying, “We did complain about this, but to no avail”..

    I like this play on facts Al Hazza seems to be good at.. I agree with you, He complains on how little we think of the media (or maybe his split personalities, hence the “we”) when its the rules and regulations to be part of his so-called solution are filled with longer waiting lines than the ones on the Louvre in summer time (where we stopped counting in meters, but in years)..

    *popped a vein in his head*

  2. also in studing media here they tought us the red lines first..they tought us the gate keeper theory before teaching us how to use media as the third eye<<<oooh they didn't..'cause the teachers themselves (or most of them) can't across the red lines..
    today we had a class in journalistic campaign the teacher told us never to be close to any contentious issues…
    so what we do if did't choose any important subject for the public opinion as Jeddah Municipality!!!!!!

  3. Very Very Well Said dude ….whenever the honourable minister get out of this obsession of control and also gets the workforce who really want to work , he’ll be ready to say the same again.

    Basicaly, they are too rich and too lazy to care for such issues….there’s no one to question them. keep sitting and issue statements to show they are “concerned”.

  4. Radio stations need licenses because there is a limited number of wavelengths and the government has to allocate them.

    But there is no reason at all why a newspaper or magazine should need any kind of license at all. Obviously the profits of the business must be reported to the tax man, but it is no concern of the government whether the business sells magazines or used furniture.

    Even less does a web site need a license, because there is probably no profit.

    Anyone should be able to start up any kind of web or print operation at any time.

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