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Saudi Arabian Television: The Challenge of Connecting with Reality

A Book Chapter by Naomi Sakr, published by Springer

This chapter considers the evolution and trajectory of a problematic construct we will heuristically call ‘Saudi Arabian television’. It does so in light of notions inherent in Michael Curtin’s analysis of the Chinese conundrum, whereby ‘constraints on content’ and privileges for ‘state-sanctioned enterprises’ impede development of those very outputs that have traditionally sustained ‘popular’ television, namely drama and comedy. It starts by reviewing motives for Saudi investment in television from the 1990s to the present day. It goes on to examine how non-Saudi companies and individuals have been engaged to nurture a Saudi-based entertainment industry of international stature. From there it explores some background to what is widely portrayed as a ‘new’ approach to screen production in Saudi Arabia and concludes by assessing whether this approach will generate vibrancy and innovation.

This chapter appears in The Future of Television in the Global South, edited by George Ogola. The volume critically examines the future of television in the global South, taking a broad geographical focus from sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America

Naomi Sakr


Naomi Sakr is Professor of Media Policy at the University of Westminster. She is co-author (with Jeanette Steemers) of Screen Media for Arab and European Children: Policy and Production Encounters in the Multiplatform Era (2019) and sole author of Transformations in Egyptian Journalism (2013), Arab Television Today (2007) and Satellite Realms: Transnational Television, Globalization and the Middle East (2001). She has has edited two collections, Women and Media in the Middle East: Power through Self-Expression (2004) and Arab Media and Political Renewal: Community, Legitimacy and Public Life (2007), and co-edited two others, Arab Media Moguls (2015) and Children’s TV and Digital Media in the Arab World: Childhood, Screen Culture and Education (2017).


21 April 2023
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