Sounds of Saudi
A more liberal and competitive radio market in KSA offers a wide range of opportunities for marketers.
April 18, 2010 3:15 by Rania Habib
A very positive Fakhoury says that Mindshare is “very excited” by the opportunities that the licensing scheme will bring forth. “We’re really looking forward to this, and we believe in the process that’s been put out,” he says. “Consumers will definitely gain from it, brands will gain from it, and the media will gain from it; it’s a win-win situation for everybody.”
Action stations: How the Saudi private radio license scheme works in practice
According to the Ministry of Culture & Information in Saudi Arabia, all license holders must cover the entire country, broadcasting out of no less than 15 cities and a maximum of 30. “This will not be easy, unless companies enjoy great human and technical resources, and are deemed as fully equipped with technical cadres and radio programs, to succeed in attracting different categories of listeners from around the country,” says Dr. Riad Ben Kamal Najem, assisting undersecretary for Engineering Affairs at the Ministry.
“Companies should also establish upon implementation a Saudi company, with a 100 percent Saudi capital, headquartered in the KSA, and responsible for operating the network,” he adds. “One party cannot acquire more than one permit for the time being.”
Mazen Fakhoury, managing director of Mindshare in Saudi Arabia, is very optimistic about the changes happening on the Saudi radio scene, and says that the way the process has unfolded is highly credible.
“I have no doubt in my mind that the Saudi market, when it comes to competitive frameworks, is the best in the Middle East,” says Fakhoury. “From a legal perspective and from the demands they are making, it’s the most credible framework I have ever seen in the region.”
Fakhoury says that the Ministry of Culture & Information has ensured that the tender documents make for a level playing field, where all of those who bid and are awarded licenses will be able to compete with each other. “Rotana will of course have some sort of advantage in terms of content, as they own a lot of the rights to Arabic songs,” he says. “But as far as the spirit I’ve seen from the tender documents; I would have to say kudos to the ministry for creating a leveled playing field where all stations will have to come up with innovations.”
Nasr El Beik, general manager of Ghayat Al Ibdaa Innovation Holding, says that acquiring a radio broadcasting authorization has been part of company concerns and priorities for a while.