Ownership Diversity in Muslim Media Systems
Across the 15 largest Muslim media systems, ownership patterns vary in interesting ways. In many Western countries, there is less and less diversity in the ownership of media assets because these assets are being concentrated among fewer and fewer corporate actors. In some Muslim countries, media assets are also concentrated, but among state actors such as ministries of communications, government secretariats, or publicly traded companies in which state agencies still hold controlling shares. In other Muslim countries, there is modest competition among the state and private owners of television stations, radio stations, mobile phone service providers, newspapers, and internet service providers.
Before embarking on the exploration of media ownership in the 15 countries with the largest Muslim populations, we first had to reach a general consensus on the meaning of diversity. At its most basic level, we determined that diversity would be defined by ownership diversity. It would consist of a balance between state-owned and privately funded television, newspapers, and mobile phone carriers. Private ownership would then be divided into foreign and local investors. Expanding on this definition, we also reached the conclusion that diversity entailed a certain level of freedom in terms of the expression of political diversity, which we determined by observing political party ownership of media sources, case studies on arrests and topics censored. In some cases, newspapers and networks are owned by specific political parties and politicians. Ayna TV in Afghanistan is owned by Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum and it is used to push his agenda. Censorship may be a result of pressure from the government/monarchy or other political groups such as warlords and opposition groups; topics include discussion of the Western Sahara in Morroco, labeling the “Armenian conflict” genocide in Turkey, and criticism of the Saudi Arabian government.
Media systems in the Muslim world have undergone major changes in recent years. Major economic, military, and political change has greatly affected the media landscape in the largest nations of the Muslim world. United States military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan has completely restructured media from previous regimes. Destructive military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Sudanese genocide and civil war have created conditions where international firms have seen a clean slate for developing communications technologies. Political turmoil surrounding elections in Pakistan has resulted in enhanced restrictions on all forms of media. In nations such as Iran and Saudi Arabia the government has maintained its stranglehold on media. Even as new technologies grant more citizens’ access to alternative forms of expression other technologies have been used to tighten the grip totalitarian regimes hold on their media systems.
There are plenty of examples of positive improvements in Muslim nations in media, communication, and information technologies. The Turkish government has made great strides in loosening restrictions on media in accordance with EU standards, while continued economic progress has spurred major growth in information technology. In India international investment has spearheaded major growth in private and competitive media markets. In North Africa Egypt, Morocco, and Algeria have seen positive improvements in media freedom and availability with the rise of new information technologies. Direct government support to media and communications systems in Uzbekistan has lead to major improvements in the Central Asian nation. Since landmark elections in 2004 Indonesia has seen a rise in availability and diversity of media sources while progress in Nigeria following their elections in 2007 has been much slower.
Finally, we assessed the extent of cross ownership by media conglomerates—whether state-owned, privately operated, or publically traded. We created a four point scale to contrast countries where there are no media conglomerates from countries where there are one or more conglomerates owning multiple media outlets. At the top of this index are countries with many media conglomerates, many instances of cross-ownership, or a high degree of concentration of all media assets in one conglomeration. States with several instances of media conglomeration, intermediate levels of cross-ownership, or a moderate degree of media concentration were listed in the middle of the index. Countries that have only a few media conglomerates, with only a few instances of cross-ownership, are at the bottom of this index. Some countries have no media conglomerates, and neither the state nor privately held firms nor publically traded companies have significant control over media outlets.
INDONESIA MEDIA PROFILE
Politics has played a huge role in the state of Indonesia’s media system today. General Suharto was in control from 1965-1998 and he dictated much of the policies in Indonesia as well as the media. Finally, post-Suharto Indonesia is slowly making the transition to democratization and the state held its first direct presidential elections in 2004. Media is still in a state of transition to liberalization and a freer press. Before 1998, media was highly supervised by the Ministry of Information and it held the reigns over a lot of the domestic media in the country. Currently, there are numerous commercial networks in Indonesia that are in direct competition with the publicly owned Televisi Republik Indonesia (TVRI). There are also few publicly owned stations within certain provinces of Indonesia. Internet is really taking off in Indonesia with approximately 20 million users. Television broadcasters and radio stations are not allowed to relay live programs received from global stations. Indonesia’s media system is under close watch by the United States’ Human Rights Watch, and recent observations conclude that journalists still are not receiving the freedoms to pass judgment on public figures. Many journalists in Indonesia feel as though a lack of technology and sufficient equipment is hurting the system as a whole. The media is lacking important assets that could create much growth and expansion.
Overall, Indonesia has a somewhat diverse media ownership pattern. In terms of ISPs, there is a wide variety of Internet providers throughout the country and it is quite diverse. Newspaper ownership is only somewhat diverse, because there are still some restrictions against Indonesian journalists. Although diversity has greatly improved as Indonesia grows as a newly democratized state, press freedoms and ownership are still developing. Television ownership is diverse, as there are numerous commerical networks in direct competition with the publicly owned station TVRI. Radio stations in Indonesia are somewhat regulated by the government, so they are restricted to what they are allowed to broadcast, but there is still some independence within the privately owned stations, making radio somewhat diverse.
PAKISTAN MEDIA PROFILE
When Musharraf came into power, he enforced new policies to liberalize print media and broadcasting. In 2007, a resistance campaign went into effect against Musharraf and media policies became stricter. Private radio and television stations grew stronger and their expansion ultimately brought down over 50 years of Pakistan’s domination of broadcasting. The state-owned Pakistan Television Corporation is finally up against some competition of over 40 private satellite television stations; however, there are currently no terrestrial television stations. Although Pakistan and India tend to clash in media wars, Pakistanis still watch a lot of international satellite channels such as India’s Zee TV and Star TV. There are about 100 private FM radio station licenses yet these private stations are not allowed to broadcast the news. Some of the private stations in tribal regions such as the North-West Frontier Province have sectarian separations. The government has quite an influence on press freedoms. For example, its law on blasphemy has held journalists back from reporting many stories. In comparison to South Asia in general however, Pakistan has one of the most blunt and opinionated print media systems. As far as Internet use goes, around 4 million users were online in 2007 (Internet Service Providers Association). There are only several small political bloggers thus far, and the government still has some control over websites.
Overall, Pakistan has a relatively diverse media ownership pattern. In terms of ISP ownership, Pakistan has over 50 private providers of Internet service, therefore diversity is very high. The press system is somewhat diverse; although the press is quite opinionated in comparison to other South Asian countries, there are still many laws and restrictions against journalists in Pakistan. In terms of cell phone ownership, there is insufficient information to judge the diversity in ownership. Radio ownership is somewhat diverse, because although there are over 100 privately owned stations, there are strict limitations on what they are allowed to broadcast. TV station ownership is quite diverse, as there are over 40 private satellite stations and one large state owned corporation. In general all of these stations are in fair competition with one another.
INDIA MEDIA PROFILE
Before the 1990s, India’s media systems saw very little diversity. It wasn’t until 1992 when the country’s TV monopoly broke apart, bringing in many new privately-owned stations. Star Plus is one of the most watched stations, and it comes to no surprise that it is owned by the mega media company, News Corporation. Entertainment television is very successful yet the news broadcasts are more popular, most likely because many of the stations run for 24-hours and they are constantly being updated. The publicly owned Doordarshan reaches approximately 400 million viewers in India, and overall the country’s cable TV market is one of the biggest in the world. India’s press system, generally read by the middle class, is also very diverse as there are numerous circulations and titles. Internet use in India has grown as well, with over 42 million users online in 2007. The Indian blogging community has grown extensively over the past few years. At the beginning of the 20th century, Indian radio frequencies have widely opened up to FM and AM broadcasters. Service is generally limited to urban areas. Many of the metropolitan cities have private FM channels that air popular music. They still are not allowed to broadcast the news; however, All India Radio (formerly known as Akashwani) broadcasts the news all over India. Overall, there has been a constant tension between India and Pakistan’s media systems, and sometimes they even ban their broadcasting in the other state.
Overall, India has a very diverse media ownership pattern. In terms of ISP ownership, India’s first ISPs were ERNet and NICNet; both of which were regulated by government restrictions. They were still doing quite well in providing fundamental services and access to the public. In the ‘90s India’s ISP system had a lot of restrictions to who could have access to information; however, today the Internet in India is very open to the public, access is not a problem, and the ISPs are private. The press system in India is very diverse with numerous privately-owned newspapers. Just in 2001, India had 45,974 newspapers, published in over 100 languages. India’s cell phone service providers are very diverse now. Today, 140 million Indians have phone service from various providers around the country. India has a large variety of radio stations to choose from, with privately and publicly owned FM and AM broadcasters; however, since there are still some restrictions on who is allowed to report the news to the public, the country’s radio ownership is somewhat diverse. Overall, India’s TV station ownership is diverse, with several privately owned stations and one huge publicly owned station, Doordarshan.
BANGLADESH MEDIA PROFILE
With a population of approximetely160 million people and a huge percentage of that population living on less than a dollar a day, media in Bangladesh is incredibly constrained by infrastructure, poverty, and population. Major television and newspaper outlets are centered in the capital Dhaka and limited to other major cities. Deep poverty and widespread illiteracy tremendously limit the reach of Bengladeshi media into rural areas of the country with radio being the most widely used. A major segment of broadcast and print media is focused on foreigners within the country and Bengali immigrant populations living abroad in the Persian Gulf states, Australia, and the United Kingdom. State run broadcaster BTV has been on the air since 1964 but the state-held monopoly on television broadcasting wasn’t lifted until 1998. Like other developing nations, the advent of satellite technology and the prevalence of international broadcasting spurred growth in private Bangladeshi satellite broadcasters such as Channel I and NTV.
Political and economic hardship within Bangladesh has created an environment where journalists are frequently the focus of attacks from political parties and religious groups. Frequent harassment and government influence are common as the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index ranked Bangladesh 134th out of 169 countries. The wide range of private Bangladeshi Newspapers such as the Daily Ittefaq, founded in 1953, have a history of being very outspoken yet despite protections of press freedom in the constitutions members of the media frequently find themselves under fire. Media in Bangladesh has a strong base but has been severely limited by difficult economic, political, and demographic problems that face the country as a whole.
Media in Bangladesh operates in a somewhat diverse environment. Television stations had been limited by monopoly to a single state broadcaster before 1998. Since restrictions on private ownership have been lifted private satellite broadcasters have gained market share for a somewhat diverse environment within Bangladesh. Newspapers in Bangladesh operate in a very diverse environment with widespread competition between privately owned firms, however there continues to be heavy involvement of party politics within print media as papers tend to follow partisan lines heavily in their reporting. The mobile phone industry is somewhat diverse with a few major foreign owned carriers providing the majority of service. There is not enough information regarding ISPs or Radio broadcasters.
An examination of media systems in Bangladesh shows low density of state organs in the media and intermediate levels of conglomeration of private firms. Television concentration is moderate, with a small state broadcaster BTV competing with numerous private channels. There is moderate density of ownership in newspapers as function with political influence and private competition. Mobile phone carriers are more heavily concentrated with Norway based Grameen Phone controlling 50% of the market.
EGYPT MEDIA PROFILE
There is a major contrast in Egyptian media between state owned and privately owned television and newspapers. Egyptian media consumption is marked by high levels of illiteracy and poverty that foster a culture of social media where cafes often function as the source of satellite television for entire neighborhoods. State run Egyptian television has been established since 1960 with the Egypt Radio Television Union controlling eight terrestrial channels throughout the country. The rise of satellite broadcasting, along with the elimination of the state run monopoly in 2001 has created a large widely popular television industry in Egypt. Privately owned Dream TV and Al-Mihwar utilized some of the first television transmitting satellites in the Arab world and have become major regional broadcasters throughout the Middle East.
Egyptian newspapers are some of the oldest in the Muslim world. Al-Ahram was established in 1828 and is the oldest Arabic language newspaper in the world. Despite its credentials Al-Ahram remains state owned and operated through the Ministry of Information, and along with Al-Jumhuriyah form the backbone of nationalized pro-government print media. There are widely circulated national dailies that support opposition political parties, and privately owned papers attempting to provide unbiased news, yet they are continually limited by laws that limit criticism of the government. With continual struggle for free private expression in Egyptian media and commonplace restrictions on information deemed damaging or critical of the government Reporters Without Borders rated Egypt 146th out of 169 countries in their media freedom index.
Egyptian media in general operates in a somewhat diverse environment. Ownership of television stations is sharply divided between the older terrestrial channels run by the government and the newer privately owned satellite channels. Despite competition between state-run and private television stations in a somewhat diverse market, restrictive laws and regulations still limit the autonomy of broadcasters. Egyptian newspapers are some of the oldest in the Middle East yet are only somewhat diverse as many are run through Egyptian government ministries or face strict government restrictions. Egyptian mobile phones are a very diverse industry with direct competition between private firms based in Europe, elsewhere in the Arab world, and a privately owned Egyptian carrier. There is not enough information to make accurate judgments of diversity in radio or internet providers, however all forms of broadcast in Egypt face similar restrictions.
State control and influence throughout Egyptian media has been diminishing in the past decade. Egypt has moderate conglomeration with its state-owned media and low concentration in the public sector. Television stations are moderately concentrated with state stations’ ERTU terrestrial broadcasting competing with a few private satellite operators such as Dream TV. Newspapers are moderately concentrated with government issued dailies and restrictions on content. Mobile phone providers have a low concentration, with major foreign companies competing with private domestic power Orascom.
TURKEY MEDIA PROFILE
Turkish media is shaped by two dramatically different elements of modern Turkish culture. Television stations and newspapers in Turkey today are caught between old oppressive censorship laws and the new found openness of Turkish politics as the government attempts to join the European Union. Within the past decade, government restrictions on freedom of speech and freedom of the press have lifted somewhat in response to European guidelines. Despite this, Turkey is still only rated number 101 out of 169 countries in the 2007 Reporters Without Borders Media Freedom Index. The government has recently loosened restrictions on previous crimes such as publishing or broadcasting in the minority language of Kurdish. However, ambiguous laws such as those that prohibit insulting Turkish identity are still used to intimidate, censor, or imprison journalists, authors, and publishers. Recent relaxations, however, have not lead to a completely independent media system as business and political affiliations within print and broadcast media are common.
In the past ten years major segments of state owned media and telecommunications firms were auctioned off and privatized in accordance with EU regulations. Loosened business ties to the government have resulted in increased competition and economic diversity in media markets. Despite increased government privatization and attempts at economic competition in broadcast and print media a few large corporations control a significant number of media outlets. The Dogan Group owns STAR TV and Kanal D, two major national broadcasters as well as Hurriyet and Milliyet, two of the nation’s most popular mass circulation daily newspapers. Turkey is in a period of transition as external political and economic forces continue to shape the media landscape.
Overall the Turkish media system is one of the most diverse among the largest states in the Muslim world. Ownership of television stations has been almost completely private and very diverse since the state monopoly ended in 1990 with the exception of a public broadcasting channel the government continues to run. Private ownership is almost universal in print media as well with a very diverse market, however there is some density in that ownership as some of the major papers and channels are run by the same corporations. Print and broadcast media in Turkey must limit discussion of certain political topics or face prosecution by the government, but for the most part Turkish media operates in a competitive and diverse environment. The Turkish mobile phone industry is very diverse as a few privately owned firms compete in the national market. Information on ISPs in Turkey is difficult to track as there are too many private servers and providers to cover. There is not enough information to judge diversity in radio ownership as the volume of regional broadcasters is too high.
Turkish media is an almost exclusively private competitive market with low levels of state control but higher levels of centralized conglomeration among corporations. Turkish television is moderately concentrated with one of the countries last remaining state run outlets in TRT and an arm of Turkey’s largest media group Dogan Holding in Star TV and Kanal D to complement its other private channels. Turkish newspapers are moderately concentrated in private conglomerates with Dogan Holding subsidiaries Hurriyet and Milliyet, two of the countries largest dailies, competing in an otherwise diverse market. In mobile phone companies a few domestic and international companies make up a small moderately dense market.
NIGERIA MEDIA PROFILE
Nigeria is among the more diverse media climates in the Muslim world, with a mixture of both state and privately owned news and media outlets. While rating at 131 out of 169 in the Reporters Without Borders 2007 Press Freedom Index, Nigeria still maintains a larger diversity of media ownership than some other Muslim Countries. For example, in the mobile telephone arena, the three most widely used carriers are all privately owned and two of the three (MTN and Celtel) are based in places other than Nigeria (South Africa and Kuwait, respectively). In terms of newspaper and television station ownership, however, the state maintains a much higher level of control. According to the African Media Development Initiative (a study conducted by the BBC in 2006), print media in Nigeria is following “a promising trend towards newspapers operating independent of the government, made possible by the decreasing reliance on government subscriptions and adverts, and by the deregulation reforms of the present administration” (27). While Nigeria was the first sub-Saharan African country to privatize its broadcasting stations, the government owned National Television authority still maintains control of a large portion of the broadcast media. However, the private sector of television broadcasting is following a positive trajectory and the private stations are expanding their influence to a large degree. The print media in Nigeria is largely state-run, peppered with a few privately owned newspapers, but still highly regulated by the government. Three of the most widely accessed radio stations in Nigeria operate under a corporate ownership structure, which offers a wide variety of perspectives, however, the most accessible radio station remains under government control. Nigeria boasts a large and diverse ownership structure in the broadcast media sector, but still maintains vast government control of print media.
Overall, Nigeria has a very diverse media ownership pattern relative to the other countries in this study. While internet use in Nigeria is low, ISPs are able to operate under a very diverse system; under the Nigerian Communications Act of 2003, the Nigerian Communications Commission liberalized ISP licensing. Newspapers are largely privately owned, interspersed with several government owned press, which makes for a very diverse and lively press in Nigeria. All three of the top mobile phone providers are based in foreign countries, none being controlled by the Nigerian government, which provides a very diverse environment in terms of mobile phone ownership. In terms of radio stations, the most readily available is Radio Nigeria, operated by the state controlled Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria. However, there are also several privately owned radio stations, allowing Nigerians a wide range of choices and offering a very diverse range of radio sources. While the Nigerian Television Authority operates on a large scale over broadcasting, Nigerians have a very diverse range of other privately owned stations as well.
The state maintains a medium level of media conglomeration in Nigeria. It owns several television stations, radio stations, and newspapers, but not the majority. Privately owned media outlets have started to overcome government owned ones. In one case, DAAR communications owns African Independent Television (AIT) one of the more popular television broadcasting services, as well as the Raypower radio station, and an ISP. In comparison to the other countries in this study, this penetration of the private sector into media conglomeration is medium.
IRAN MEDIA PROFILE
Iran boasts one of the least diverse media climates, in terms of ownership, in the Muslim world. Cell phones, newspapers, and television stations are nearly all entirely run by the state. In the Reporters Without Borders 2007 Press Freedom Index, Iran ranked a dismal 166 out of 169. Under the current religious leadership of Ayatollah Khamenei and political leadership of President Ahmadinejad, the media has been effectively controlled, in its entirety, by the Islamic state. However, Iran does have a history of government-controlled media; the television stations have never been privatized and are controlled under the monopoly of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting service. Newspaper ownership is also largely controlled by the state. According to the BBC country profile of Iran, the newspapers of the country are controlled by either the state run IRIB or IRNA (Islamic Republic News Agency). In this respect, the mass distributed media in Iran is almost entirely dictated through the mouthpiece of the government, leaving little room for dissent or oppositional viewpoints; the operations of several independent newspapers were suspended for promoting an anti-government stance. The only opportunity for obtaining foreign television or news is through satellite television, although owning a satellite dish is illegal. Beyond the press, the government also maintains a monopoly over the cellular telephone industry, with the government owned Telecommunication Company of Iran owning all of the telecommunications and cell phone networks in the country. Radio in Iran, aligning with the previous media outlets explored, is also entirely run by the IRIB. The Internet has become the most diverse outlet of Iranian media. Even though all ISPs must register through the Data Communications Company of Iran, the introduction of the private market has stood as an anomaly in a media system otherwise functioning under the monopoly of the Iranian government. Overall, the government’s control over the media in Iran is all encompassing, including all aspects of popular media and telecommunications sectors.
Overall, Iran’s media ownership pattern lacks diversity. ISP ownership has some diversity, but all providers must register with and are effectively controlled by the government. Newspapers lack ownership diversity because the major press outlets are state-run and there have been efforts to prevent privately run newspapers from printing material that suggests reform or speaks against the administration. In terms of cell phone providers, Iran lacks diversity as the providers all operate under the Telecommunications Company of Iran. The TCI also has a monopoly over radio broadcasting in Iran, which renders this media outlet not diverse as well. Similarly, the TCI maintains control over television broadcasting, limiting the possibilities of a diverse broadcasting system as well.
Iran’s media system is under a high government monopoly. The state runs all of the media outlets in the country, besides Internet Service Providers. However, all the ISPs must register with the Telecommunications Company of Iran before providing service, allowing the Iranian government to impose strict regulations on content and censorship. Satellite television is also not controlled by the Iranian government, but the ban on owning a satellite compromises the ability of anti-government information to enter the country.
ALGERIA MEDIA PROFILE
Algeria maintains one of the more prominent levels of media diversity in the Muslim world. While some aspects of Algerian media are government run, others are entirely privatized, making for a diverse ownership structure. Rated at 123 out of 169 in the Reporters Without Borders 2007 Press Freedom Index, Algeria is continuing on a positive trajectory to an even more diverse media ownership structure. In terms of mobile phone operators, of the three main companies, one (Mobilis) is state-owned and the other two (Djeezy and Nedjma) belong to a foreign corporate ownership structure, Djeezy being a subsidiary of Orascom Egypt, and Nedjma a subsidiary of Kuwaiti based Wataniya.  Television in Algeria is entirely controlled by the state-run ENTV (Enterprise Nationale de Television); however, French satellite television channels are also accessible to those with a satellite dish and allow for diversity in the types and opinions of news programs watched. According to Menassat, around 60% of households in Algeria have access to a satellite dish, which has initiated a relative decline in the viewership of Algerian national television stations.  Radio is also entirely run by the state. The print media in Algeria is mostly private and would therefore seem to be free to offer a wide diversity of opinions on politics as well as express dissent and distaste with the administration. However, all four of the printing presses used for newspaper distribution, as well as the actual paper that the newspapers are printed on, are owned by the government. The Internet poses an interesting solution to this; in 1999, with its privatization, more newspapers began to post their controversial material online. Overall, Algeria’s media ownership structure offers more diversity in some sectors than in others, but still maintains a high standing in overall ownership diversity.
Overall, Algeria has a somewhat diverse media ownership pattern in comparison to the other countries in this study. Some ISPs in Algeria are owned privately, but most are subsidiaries or partners of the state-run Algerie Telecom. Despite private ownership, all ISPs must register with the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications which monitors the sites accessed, making ISP ownership in Algeria somewhat diverse. The press, however, is vibrant with many privately owned newspapers that create a very diverse ownership structure. Two of the three top mobile phone providers are privately owned, also demonstrating a very diverse ownership pattern. However, the radio is almost entirely controlled by the government, rendering a lack of diversity in the ownership structure of this aspect of the media. Also, the state runs the major television stations through ENTV. However, satellite television operated through BRTV in France offers some diversity in the ownership structure of broadcast media.
State media conglomeration is high in Algeria, with the government maintaining control over all of the national television and radio stations. While the government does not directly control the press, it retains ownership over the four printing presses, making it increasingly difficult for newspapers to print anti-government articles. In terms of private media conglomerates, Orascom Telecom, based in Egypt, owns a mobile phone company as well as an Internet Service Provider in Algeria, rendering the private media monopoly low in the country.
MOROCCO MEDIA PROFILE
Moroccans have access to approximately 2,000 domestic and foreign publications. However, readership is low due to low literacy levels. The press is usually in French or Arabic. Some of Morocco’s press is at least partially government owned, while others are privately owned. Though much progress has been made over the years and censorship was banned in domestic publications in 1977, journalists practice self-censorship heavily. Sensitive and censored topics include the Western Sahara, the monarchy, Islam and corruption. Recently, the Western Sahara, rise of Islam and human rights corruptions has been reported more frequently. The topic journalists are most prosecuted for is criticism of the royal family. Consequences include heavy prison sentences and fines.
Two French-language newspapers have suffered legal action recently. TelQuel was ordered to pay libel damages of 500,000 dirhams ($73,570) to the head of a community association In February 2007. Later that month, Abou Jamai, managing editor of Le Journal Hebdomadaire, and journalist Fahd Iraqi paid 3.1 million dirhams ($417,480) in damages for libel to the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center, an organization that specializes in researching and consulting in terrorism-related matters. Publications are usually in French or Arabic. Censorship and government ownership is less intense in newspapers than television. RTM and 2M, the two major television networks in Morocco. They are both state-owned. Radio-Television Marocaine (RTM) is a state-owned television and radio station. Medi 1, the other radio station in Morocco, is privately owned. Cellular phones are owned by a French company, a Portuguese company, the royal family, and portions are privately owned. With over 40 Internet Service Providers (ISPs), there is diversity.
Overall, Morrocan media has made many strides. While newspapers are a mixture of state-owned, partially state-owned, and privately-owned, there are still some forbidden topics. Morrocan television networks are fully state-owned and mobile phones and ISPs are fairly diverse in ownership. Reporters Without Borders ranks Morocco 106 out of 169 in its 2007 worldwide Press Freedom Index.
SAUDI ARABIA MEDIA PROFILE
Saudi Arabia is home to 26 million citizens, an array of newspapers and one television station. Arabic is the primary language of media outlets. However, a small amount of news media is in English. Media in Saudi Arabia is considered one of the most heavily censored media markets in the Middle East. The Broadcasting Service of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (BSKSA), a government organization, oversees all media. While Saudi newspapers are privately owned, the Saudi government must approve all publishers and editors. A member of the Saudi royal family or someone close to the family closely monitors each newspaper. BBC lists seven major daily newspapers. Most of these papers were started in the 1960s and 1970s.
There is one major television news network, which operates four channels and is owned by the Saudi government.  Because of these tight controls, most Saudis get other information from foreign news and the internet. Any criticism of the government, royal family or Islamic religious practices are strictly prohibited in the Saudi media. A specific case includes journalist Fawaz Turki, of the government daily Arab News. Turki was fired for writing about the atrocities perpetrated by Indonesia, the country with the highest Muslim population by percentage. The atrocities took place during Indonesia’s 1975-1999 occupation of East Timor. Saudi media has recently begun to report on more controversial topics such as women’s rights, terrorism and political, economic and educational reform. There are 130 media publications supported in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi media is quite tightly controlled by the BSKSA. Television networks are completely state-owned and while newspapers are privately owned, they are closely monitored and thus still heavily censored. Internet websites are often blocked by the Saudi government, but internet service providers are generally privately owned. Government media conglomeration is high because the BKSA oversees all and the Saudi government owns all television networks. Private conglomeration is low as there is little cross ownership besides the government. Saudi Arabia ranks 148 out of 169 on the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index.
AFGHANISTAN MEDIA PROFILE
Afghanistan has experienced tremendous growth in its recent years as the Post-Taliban reform period has inspired 400 new publications. Under the Taliban regime, Afghan media was incredibly restricted and influenced by Taliban ideologies. Television was seen as immoral and therefore, banned. Although, journalists today are under some threat from warlords, conservative religious leaders and the government, great strides have been made. Many foreign groups own the new media. The Moby Capital Partners own Tolo TV and Lemar TV. There are eight major television networks, only one of which is state-owned (Afghanistan National Television). Privately owned television stations are the first to be criticized by religious conservatives. Ayna TV is owned by Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum and is considered propaganda. Much of the television material is foreign such as Indian music and Western-style formats. Television is particularly popular in urban cities amongst young people under the age of 30. These television networks all began in the mid 2000s. There are over 50 radio stations. Internet access is still rare and computer literacy rates are not high. There is still much development needed in this area. The country’s five newspapers, which were established in the 1960s and 1970s, on the other hand, are still heavily state-owned..  Afghan Wireless is the cellular phone provider in Afghanistan and is privately owned. Afghanistan is mixed in terms of media diversity. Television stations are very diverse, while mobile phone providers are diverse and newspapers are not. Government media conglomeration is medium because newspapers are still state-owned, but nothing else is. Corporate conglomeration is low because few private owners own more than one form of media. Reporters without Borders ranks Afghanistan at 142 out of 169 in the 2007 Worldwide Press Freedom Index.
SUDAN MEDIA PROFILE
Media in Sudan has been hard pressed to find an outlet to spread throughout the country without limitations. Television and radio are almost completely dominated by the control of the Sudanese government. The majority of the broadcast programs are highly regulated by the government to ensure that only official state views are transmitted to Sudanese citizens.
Local television is controlled completely by the Sudanese government, and operates two channels. Sudan TV has a permanent military censor to ensure that news reflects official state views. In the semi-autonomous South of the country, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement operates Juba TV, which enjoys more broadcasting liberties for broadcasting material, advocated by the region’s president. However, satellite dishes have become increasingly common among affluent citizens who can use them to watch international channels from across the Middle East to Europe.
Local radio is also government controlled to ensure that government perspectives are upheld via news and cultural programs. Sudan National Radio Corporation, the government-run radio broadcaster, relays national and regional programs in multiple languages. Music stations have earned some leeway with the government, allowing stations such as the Khartoum-based Mango FM to be privately owned. In the southern region, several stations are supported, including UN established Miraya FM and government supported Radio Juba. It is also from the south region where opposition parties broadcast their political views on shortwave to the rest of the country.
Print media is allowed more freedom than the previously mentioned media. Much of the press was restricted following the political coup that took place in 1989, but print media has made a comeback in its liberties since then. Many press establishments are privately owned, providing them more independence to publish views other than those of the state. Newspapers such as Al-Ra’y al-Amm and Al-Ayam are privately owned and popular throughout the nation. There are also several daily local papers, including Al-Khartoum in the north region and the Juba Post in the south. Though the press enjoys more freedom than their partners in Sudanese media, the state still utilizes their control to influence what is published.
Internet usage is extremely limited throughout the country, but the penetration rate has increased significantly from nearly zero in 2000 to about 7% in 2007. Internet is largely regulated and provided by half-private half-state owned Sudatel. .
Cell phone technology has flourished under the investment of foreign companies. Kuwait MTC is the country’s largest provider, with South Africa MTN and Sudatel following
Overall, Sudan’s media system ownership is somewhat diverse. ISP ownership is not diverse, being solely provided by Sudatel which has government investments. Print media ownership is diverse. Restrictions have been loosened over the last 19 years with the emergence of several private papers alongside state media, but these are still kept in check by government sources. Cell phone companies operating in the region are largely foreign, but very diverse. The state only controls a small piece of the cell phone market. Radio is diverse, through both private music stations operating along-side state stations and opposition parties from the south broadcasting pirate signals countrywide. Though local television is completely state-owned, ownership is now diverse with the popularized use of satellite TV which circumvents this barrier.
IRAQ MEDIA PROFILE
Iraqi media organizations have been constantly changing since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the following U.S. occupation. Near the end of Hussein’s regime, media was tightly controlled and regulated with a small selection of media available to the Iraqi people. With the regime now toppled, a series of independent media outlets, both foreign and domestic, have set up shop.
The TV stations initially established by the U.S. government are now part of the Iraqi Public Broadcasting Service (IPBS), which funds state media operations. Iraq’s main station is Al-Iraqiya, which is government owned and publically funded. Privately owned stations have also moved in to compete under the new Iraqi establishment. Dubai based Al-Sharqiya broadcasts through local stations and via satellite. Channels from the autonomous territories of Kurdistan are also received throughout the country. Satellite TV is watched by a majority of Iraqi viewers, allowing them to access Arab stations such as Al-Jazeera and western stations such as the BBC.
The IPBS also maintains several radio stations, including Republic of Iraq Radio and Radio Basra. More important, however, is the emergence of local private radio stations. Voice of Iraq broadcasts over AM frequencies, while Hot FM and Radio Dilja provide talk shows and music to Baghdad residents over high-quality FM frequencies. Foreign broadcasters are also looking to stake a claim in the Iraqi market, including the BBC and Paris-based Radio Monte Carlo, ensuring the eventual presence of foreign capital.
A variety of publications have surfaced since the fall of Hussein. Al-Sabah is the state-run publication sponsored by the Iraqi Media Network. Aside from this, however, there are numerous publications operating independently of the state, including some foreign investment. Based in London, Al-Zaman is printed in major cities with English and Arabic sections. There are also local daily publications, including Al-Mada and Al-Mashriq in Baghdad and Al-Manarah in Basra.
Internet usage is severely limited in Iraq. There is only a 0.1% penetration rate in the country. However, usage is on the rise due to increased satellite broadband access and Internet cafés.
Cell phone access was devastated by the war, but is now being rebuilt under the investment of various foreign companies. The country has been divided into three equal parts for service, distributed to Kurdish group Asia Cell, Egypt’s Orascom, and Kuwait MTC.
Overall, the new Iraqi media ownership pattern is very diverse. As it is still under development after the war, data on ISP diversity is still insufficient to judge. Print media ownership is very diverse, with both state-owned and private papers in publication in the cities. Cell phone provider ownership is diverse with a multitude of foreign companies prepared to invest. However, there is no word of a local operator as of yet. Radio station ownership is also diverse. Though the state still maintains its prominent stations, new private entertainment stations have emerged. Television station ownership is diverse as well. The state operates the large stations locally, but international stations are becoming readily available through satellite television.
UZBEKISTAN MEDIA PROFILE
Despite a constitutional ban on censorship, the Uzbekistani government continues to maintain tight control over the country’s media. Many have criticized the government for being eager to silence opposition to its views. Self-censorship is a common practice; a law issued in 2007 holds media organizations accountable for their view and its effect upon broadcast. Regardless of government control, private endeavors still manage to make their way in the country.
The largest organization in Uzbekistani media is the state-operated National Television and Radio Company of Uzbekistan (NTRC), which operates the two major TV and radio networks. Alongside the NTRC TV channels, there are various privately owned stations that operate locally in their respective regions. These include MTRK in Andijan, Bagdad TV in Fergana and Bekabad TV in Tashkent. Foreign channels are also available to viewers in addition to the local stations.
The NTRC holds dominance over national radio as well, operating a variety of channels including youth-oriented Yoshlar. Aside from the national channels, private stations operate in local regions. Some of these include Radio Grand, the first private radio station in Tashkent, and Radio Sezam FM which operates in the Syrdarya region. Though privately owned, they are not nearly as influential as the NTRC. Acknowledging the government supervision, news programs continue to be self-censored to maintain government views.
Like other forms of media in Uzbekistan, the press is largely controlled by the government. In some cases, federals own publications and in others they endorse private agencies with pro-government agendas. The state prints a number of dailies, including Khalq Sozi and Ozbekistan Ozovi. They also print Russian-language dailies such as Narodnoye Slovo and Pravda Vostoka. Fidokor, though not owned by the state, is supported publically because of its pro-government perspective. Self-censorship is a widely-used practice; the Committee to Protect Journalists reports that many Uzbekistani citizens rely on foreign news sources such as the BBC for their news. These channels are available on the widely-accessible national cable TV networks.
Internet has struggled to become established in the country, but Internet penetration has increased significantly in the last 7 years by 6.6%. This growth comes largely from the government’s decision to prioritize ICT in the national budget and a $30 million loan from the United States.
Cell phone service is dominated by large Russian providers due to dependency on Russian fiber-optics. Due to prioritization of ICT development by the government however, cell phone markets will become competitive in a relatively short amount of time.
Overall, Uzbekistan’s media diversity pattern is not diverse. There is not enough information to determine the diversity of ISP ownership because of its limited penetration. The print media system is not diverse either. If publications are not produced by the government directly, the private companies are mostly coerced to be pro-government. The cell phone market is not diverse. A majority of providers are Russia-based and will continue to be so until Uzbekistan is able to free their fiber-optic connections to Russian hubs. Radio network ownership is diverse with state radio and local private radio co-existing. However, state radio is most likely much more influential than local private stations which only provide to limited areas. The television system is diverse, mainly due to the usage of satellite TV to receive international channels. Aside from these however, channels provided locally are all state-owned.
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