Controversy over Saudi children’s channel deepens

January 10, 2013

A controversy over the call by a Saudi religious man to boycott a children’s television channel over its content has deepened after a prominent media figure joined in the blogosphere dispute.

This week, Shaikh Mohammad Al Arifi lambasted the Middle East Broadcasting Corporation (MBC)’s children entertainment channel MBC3, saying that it broadcast scenes that contained atheism and corruption.

Parents should take care of their children and remove the channel from their homes, Al Arifi, no stranger to controversy, advised on his Twitter account.

The religious figure added that he would boycott all companies and products that advertised on the channel.

However, the channel hit back and charged Al Arifi of posting claims that were “tendentious and remotely detached from reality altogether”.

“Most of those in charge of the channel’s programmes are mothers and experts keen on what their children watch as they are with all children of all ages,” the channel said. “We produce and broadcast a varied host of programmes that highlight the significance of stimulating the potential of young people and of investing in the next generations.”

Hitting back

The channel doubted Al Arifi’s right to assess its programmes.

“Isn’t he the same person who said that a girl should not remain alone with her father to avoid the possibility that he might develop a sexual tendency towards her?” The channel asked in its statement.

However, on Wednesday, Prince Abdul Aziz Bin Fahad Al Saud, a shareholder in the group, said that he supported Al Arifi and that he had unsuccessfully tried to introduce changes into the channel, local Arabic news site Sabq reported.

“I have grown tired with the current situation and I am concerned about stubbornness,” he posted on his Twitter account. “I am trying to work out a solution with some partners that includes setting up a panel for reforms,” Prince Abdul Aziz, the son of the late King Fahad, posted.

Most of Sabq online comments sided with Al Arifi and Prince Abdul Aziz, using religion to support their views. In August, Shaikh Mohammad Saleh Al Minjad, another religious figure, said that parents who allowed their children to watch MBC3 were “committing a sin”.

MBC3, part of the MBC Group, broadcasts a mixture of children’s education and entertainment programmes.

The MBC group has four TV channels that operate as MBC 1, 2, 3, 4 and several radio stations.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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