Broadcasting in Saudi Arabia in the era of globalization : a study of local constraints on television development
This study examines the reasons for the Saudi media mdustry's dependence on imported foreign productions. In a departure from traditional dependency theory, which emphasises the role of external factors in the context of the world system, this study explains the state of dependency and underdevelopment in a more locally grounded analysis which evaluates the role of Saudi media policies and regulatory functions in perpetuatmg this dependency status. Two methodologies were applied, firstly, content analyses of a two-week period of Saudi television programming on Channel 1 were earned out to examine the quantity and quality of both local and imported television fare in terms of genre and format, Secondly, mterviews were conducted with Saudi media officials, media pohcy makers, and mdependent local producers to ascertain, from their perspective, what exactly constrains the Saudi media industry and limits its potential, and why the Saudi media is dependent on imported television fare. The results of the content analyses and interviews showed that political, professional and economic constraints handicap STV's performance. This has led to output which is considered to be irrelevant to the needs and mterests of the Saudi viewing population. It has also led to an increase in imported foreign programming and DBS populanty, thus creating a cause of concern among culturalists and Islamists who object to content which, they argue, conflicts with the basic principles of the Islamic faith. Recommendations are proposed to Saudi media policy makers in order to counteract the foreign competition and enhance mdigenous, self-reliant development.