Saudi Arabia to regulate local YouTube channels

Authority plans to issue guidelines for local companies that screen YouTube channels

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Saudi Arabia plans to regulate YouTube channels to ensure they adhere to local cultural values, according to the head of a media watchdog.

Riyadh Najm, President at the Saudi General Commission for Audiovisual Media, said the authority plans to issue guidelines for local companies that screen YouTube channels.

“The most prominent thing about these regulations is that they [will make sure that] YouTube channels are licensed in Saudi Arabia according to [acceptable] limits and morals and that all workers abide by broadcast regulations. This aims to guarantee the quality of performance,” Najm told the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.

Najm said the authority was looking to embrace the creation of YouTube videos and “develop the technical and artistic skills” of those creating them.

Saudi Arabia has the highest per-capita consumption of YouTube videos in the world, according to Google, which owns the video-sharing site.

The move to regulate YouTube will “raise a lot of questions” over acceptable limits, and whether channels will be censored before or after broadcast, Asharq al-Awsat noted.

The authority does not currently practice prior censorship of TV channels, but demands that broadcasts match local values and traditions, the newspaper added. It has the right to shut down TV stations that violate the law, it was reported.

Google declined to comment on the matter when contacted by Al Arabiya News.

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