Saudi Arabia | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia

Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

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


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


The authorities do not permit criticism of Islam or the ruling family, and direct criticism of the government is rare. A media policy statement and a national security law prohibit the dissemination of criticism of the government, though there is some leeway to scrutinize governmental bodies and social policies. Officially, journalists are urged to uphold Islam, oppose atheism, promote Arab interests, and preserve the cultural heritage of the country. Official censorship is common, as is self-censorship. Journalists must be licensed in order to practice their profession. The government tightly controls the entry of foreign journalists through the granting of visas. The Internet is widely available, but highly censored for content and monitored by authorities. Satellite television--through which Saudi citizens have access to news programs such as those of Al-Jazeera and CNN--is widespread, despite its illegal status. The government owns all broadcast media. Print media are privately owned although highly dependent on the state for funding.