Freedom of the Press

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia

Freedom of the Press 2002

2002 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

80

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

28

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

26

The ruling family has long controlled news and information available to the public. Criticism of the government, ruling family, or Islam is strictly prohibited, although observers have noted that media outlets enjoy increasing latitude in covering sensitive subjects such as unemployment or domestic violence. The government owns all domestic broadcast media and closely monitors the privately owned but publicly subsidized print media. All editors-in-chief must be approved by the information minister. Foreign journalists' entry into the kingdom is tightly controlled, and foreign media are frequently censored. The Arab television network Al-Jazeera, unusually balanced for Middle East journalism, provides a surreptitious opening for Saudi viewers. Internet access is growing rapidly but all Internet flows are channeled through an official ISP, and filters block certain information. However, the American war on terrorism led to broad international and some domestic discussion of the royal family, its dependence on U.S. military forces, and the role of Islamic fundamentalism in worldwide terrorism. After the removal of a 40-year ban on media unionization, Saudi journalists were permitted to form a trade union in 2001.