Interesting coverage from Magda Abu-Fadil on the Arab Media Forum, held last week in Dubai. She provides a nugget of information about the limits of coverage of Arab news channels like Al Arabiya. The network, which broadcasts in Arabic but features an English language website and Twitter feed, is owned by the Saudi television conglomerate Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC). It serves as an alternative to Al Jazeera, based in Qatar.

Abu-Fadil writes:

The lively discussion turned to media freedoms in the Arab world and whether channels like Al Arabiya and Aljazeera were allowed to report on sensitive issues in their home countries.Dubai-based Al Arabiya is Saudi-owned while Aljazeera is based in Doha and funded by the Qatari government.

“We can cover Saudi Arabia, up to a point,” Al Khatib said, noting that media worldwide must operate within certain parameters. “There’s a romantic view that media aren’t courageous enough.”

He also said owners had interests and could take certain risks but that going too far meant jeopardizing advertising revenue and the possible loss of viewers, not to mention journalists losing their jobs if they ruffled the wrong feathers.

Interesting. I’d quibble with the insistance that all media outlets have limits imposed upon them. That’s true to a certain point. However, because of the absence of legal protections for the media in this part of the world, Arab media outlets practice far more self-censorship than in most other regions.