Manama, May 15 (BNA) — Saudi Arabia increases its annual media budget by 25 to 30 per cent to provide enhanced services, said the nation’s Deputy Minister for Culture and Information, Dr Abdulla Al Jassir. “The budget for this year is SR2.5 million, which is 30 per cent over the 2011 figures,” he added.
The media in Saudi Arabia realises that content enhancement is a must to attract the targetted audience be it on radio or television, Dr Al Jassir told the Bahrain News Agency on the sidelines of the 12th Gulf Festival for Radio and Television.
He said that the way forward for the Saudi media is better content and more penetration of the programmes. Towards this, said the deputy minister, the year 2012 has seen the introduction of five new channels, including one on culture, children and economy. With this Saudi Arabia has 14 channels he said.
There are also six radio channels, he added. Saudi broadcasts in seven languages, he added.
”To ensure that the media is kept abreast, training programmes are ongoing,” he added.
Asked about the infrastructural development in the media sector, he said, that the rather large geography of the nation made it imperative to invest in infrastructural development. “We are working on 350 hubs in Saudi Arabia for creating a good network for both television and radio,” said the minister. In terms of size, the Ministry of Culture and Information is only the second after Egypt, he added. There are about 8,000 people working in the media sector alone, he said.
On the privatising of the media, he said that Saudi had already privatised five radio networks and plans are to create another five stations in the private sector arena, he said.
Television is also to be privatised soon, he said.
Turning to the influx of social media, the deputy minister said that it was huge in comparison. It cannot be controlled or censored. With the advent of social media, it has now come to a stage where everyone has his own media — the twitter and facebook accounts. There is a dedicated department in the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information, he added. “We are trying to engage the Saudis to work in this division. The extent is such that if one were to look at 800 as an average figure, 650 would belong to Saudi citizens,” Al Jassir said.