In 1992 a total of ten daily newspapers, all privately owned, were published in Saudi Arabia. Seven were printed in Arabic and three in English. The most widely read Arabic dailies were Ar Riyadh (circulation estimated at 140,000), published in Riyadh, and Al Jazirah (circulation 90,000), published in Jiddah. Smaller-circulation papers were published in both cities. The cities of Ad Dammam, Mecca, and Medina also had daily newspapers. All three English-language dailies were published in Jiddah. The largest of these was Arab News with an estimated circulation of 110,000. The smaller Saudi Gazette (circulation 17,400) and Saudi News (circulation 5,000) were specialized publications that emphasized economic news and press releases from the state-owned Saudi Press Agency. In addition to the daily papers, there were fourteen weekly magazines, of which eight were published in Arabic and six in English, and twelve periodicals.
Although there was no prepublication censorship of Saudi newspapers, editors understood that articles expressing opposition to the government or its policies were unacceptable, and they thus exercised self-censorship. The Ministry of Information effectively supervised all periodicals through the Press Law of 1964. This law required the formation of a fifteenmember committee to assume financial and editorial responsibility for each privately owned newspaper. The members of these committees had to be approved by the Ministry of Information. In contrast to the local press, the foreign press was heavily censored before being permitted into the kingdom. The objective of the censors was not only to remove politically sensitive materials but also to excise advertisements deemed offensive to public morality.
Since 1990 several editors, reporters, and photojournalists have been suspended, dismissed, fired outright, or detained by Saudi security authorities for violating the unwritten press censorship code. In February 1992, the respected editor in chief of the English-language daily, Arab News, Khaled al Maeena, was fired for reproducing an Associated Press wire service report that featured an interview with the Egyptian cleric Shaykh Umar Abd ar Rahman, then residing in exile in New Jersey. In December 1992, the editor in chief of the Arabiclanguage daily An Nadwah also was fired summarily after his paper featured an article about Islamic groups in the kingdom.
As of 1991, the most recent year for which statistics were available, there were an estimated 4.5 million television sets in Saudi Arabia and an estimated 5 million radio receivers. One hundred twelve television stations throughout the country broadcast both Arabic and English programs. There were fortythree AM radio stations and twenty-three FM stations. The Saudi Arabian Broadcasting Service transmitted programs overseas in Arabic, Farsi, French, Indonesian, Somali, Swahili, and Urdu.
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