Saudi Arabia’s minister of culture and information, Dr Abd-al-Aziz Khuja, has issued a blunt warning to TV broadcasters which “instigate sedition” amongst what he describes as “members of Saudi society” or threaten national unity. They will be shut down, he said, as reported by Saudi Arabia’s Al-Watan daily newspaper.
He told the newspaper, as reported by BBC Monitoring, that his ministry would issue new regulations regarding the channels that seek to stir racism in the Saudi society. “The national unity is a red line that must not be crossed,” he said. He reiterated the ministry’s outright rejection to any such channels, and urged the public to do the same.
His warning has to be taken seriously given that many Arabic-language channels use Arabsat as their distribution vehicle, and Arabsat is based near the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh. However, turfing any controversial channel off the satellite could also create legal problems given that binding contracts exist, and that one person’s controversy is another’s freedom of expression.