Saudi Arabia to launch new TV and radio channels

Four new Saudi television channels are to be launched at the beginning of the next Hijrah year, Culture and Information Minister Abdul Aziz Khoja announced on Monday. The first two channels will be dedicated to the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah and will be broadcast from the two holy cities, while the other two will focus on economy and culture.

Mr Khoja said the four channels have been planned on the directives of King Abdullah. “The two channels for the Qur’an and Sunnah are a gift from King Abdullah to the Islamic world,” he added.

Speaking about the economy channel, Mr Khoja said it would highlight Saudi Arabia’s leading position in global economies, being the largest oil producer and exporter. He also noted the importance given by the Kingdom to cultural dialogue. “The new channel for culture will be a venue for academics and intellectuals to air their views on various issues,” the minister said.

King Abdullah set up the King Abdul Aziz National Dialogue Center in 2003 to promote a culture of dialogue in the country.

Mr Khoja also disclosed plans to shortly launch five FM radio stations. The ministry has already short-listed 15 companies for five licences to operate the stations. The bidders will have to present their offers in the second and final phase of the process. The Saudi government decided in September to allow private companies to operate radio stations. The Dubai-based MBC Group is currently the only private firm with an FM licence.

Research and analysis from the Arab Advisors Group reveals that close to 82 percent of Saudis listen to FM radio - 54 percent of them on a daily basis. FM radio listening is mostly done while driving cars with over 57 percent listening to the radio in their cars. Four percent listen to FM radio stations at work.