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Specialist Guide to the

Global Leaders in Media Law Practice

      M E D I A   L A W   

      I N T E R N A T I O N A L   ®

      

SAUDI ARABIA

TIER 1

Al Tamimi & Company

Clyde & Co


TIER 2

Charles Russell Speechlys

BLK Partners

Khoshaim & Associates

Salman M. Al-Sudairi in association with Latham & Watkins


TIER 3

Alshahrani Almansour (in collaboration with DLA Piper)

Khalid Al-Thebity in Affiliation With Greenberg Traurig

Mohanned bin Saud Al-Rasheed in association with Baker Botts

Linklaters

 

TIER 4

Wael A. Alissa in association with Dentons

Salah Al-Hejailan in association with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Hassan Mahassni


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Saudi Arabia’s media landscape is developing rapidly, and this extends to production capacity as well as to the associated regulatory landscape.


The Kingdom has a significant appetite for developing local media content production capabilities and capacity in the broadest sense. This can be seen in a variety of forms, ranging from the efforts of the Saudi Film Commission and Film AlUla to lure international production to Saudi Arabia, through to recent announcements requiring the use of local production houses to produce, in-country, promotional content for the government sector. Investments by the Public Investment Fund (the major sovereign wealth fund) in the game development sector provide another example of how Saudi Arabia is seeking to develop local industrial capabilities in the broader media and entertainment space.


The media sector regulator, known until recently as ‘GCAM’ (the General Commission for Audio Visual Media), has recently been rebranded as ‘GAMR’ (the General Authority for Media Regulation). GAMR is primarily responsible for licensing businesses operating in the media space in Saudi Arabia, and for monitoring compliance with ‘media content controls’ (discussed below).


This renaming touches on a consolidation of scope that can be found in a draft ‘Media Law’, which proposes to sweep-up older, print-focussed laws and regulations along with the more recent Audio-Visual Media Law. Exactly when the draft Media Law will be finalized, and in what final form, remains to be seen.


The telecoms regulator, ‘CST’ (the Communications, Space & Technology Commission), in its capacity as the authority responsible for the internet, has historically been active in moderating the digital content space in Saudi Arabia. The new Telecommunications & Information Technology Law, issued in June 2022, includes specific reference to CST’s responsibility for ‘digital content platforms’. 

CST’s new Digital Content Platform Regulations now require various organisations in this space (including satellite Pay TV platforms, internet protocol TV platforms, video OTT platforms and video sharing platforms) to meet various regulatory requirements, separate and additional to the licensing requirements administered by GAMR.


One of the consequences that will flow from the Digital Content Platform Regulations is that foreign platform providers that do not have a presence in the Kingdom, but whose services are available in the Kingdom, will be required to ‘comply with all applicable laws of Saudi Arabia’ - including, the media content controls provided in the Audio-Visual Media Law and its Regulations. (Platforms with a formal presence in the Kingdom will naturally be required to comply with such requirements pursuant to their GAMR licences.)


In general terms, these media content controls prohibit content that is un-Islamic, contrary to public morality and against the national security and interests of the Kingdom.


There are broad opportunities in the media sector in Saudi Arabia, and some level of nuance in terms of how local rules – both legal and social – are to be interpreted. Up-to-date local insight is an essential aspect of working efficiently in the Kingdom and with clients based in the Kingdom.



Nick O'Connell

Partner, Head of Digital & Data

Al Tamimi & Company

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