Saudi TV goes Turkish/Persian

Chris Forrester

Saudi Arabia’s state-backed broadcaster is to launch a TV channel covering Turkish and Persian languages. It will be the Kingdom’s 5th terrestrial channel, and will be available to pan-regional audiences via satellite. The new channel may well lead to other ‘international’ channels.

BBC Monitoring carried the report, quoting the Al-Hayat newspaper, saying that Saudi Arabia’s Culture and Information Minister Dr Abd-al-Aziz Khuja has formed a committee within his ministry, and under the chairmanship of Dr Abdallah al-Jasir, the undersecretary for media affairs, plus senior ministry officials and television channels' directors to draw up the features of the fifth channel “that will be launched soon and transmit terrestrially and via satellite”. It will be based in Jeddah and broadcasting programmes in Persian, Turkish and other minority languages.

Al-Hayat says that the channel’s aims are to reach viewers who speak these other non-Arabic languages (Turkish, Persian, Urdu, and Malay) “so as to acquaint them with Saudi society's social, economic, political, and security reality”. The committee will decide upon the channel’s content, and its administrative and financial resources.

Dr Fahd al-Khariji, head of the Media Department at the King Sa'ud University, underlined the need for Saudi Arabia’s ‘official’ media to move from its local character to a global one for several reasons, the most important being the kingdom's regional and international political and economic weight in addition to its role at the United Nations and the G20. He said: "We hope that the culture and information minister will adopt the project of the universality of the Saudi media. The kingdom's international status necessitates the establishment of this project because the universality of Islam requires the universality of the Saudi media. We hope that the fifth channel will be the first step on this road."