Friday, September 30, 2005

More On The Saudi Prince

Frank Gaffney, Jr., has made a few more points about Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, recent investor in Fox News:
"Al-Waleed is said be the world’s fifth richest man and now NewsCorp’s fourth largest voting shareholder (behind the Murdoch family, Liberty Media and fund giant Fidelity Management & Research Co)....

"[After his check was rejected by Mayor Giuliani] the prince released a statement that blamed the United States and its support for Israel for the devastating 9/11 attacks....

"Shortly after the check fiasco, he permitted the CBS program 60 Minutes to profile him and his hyper-rich, internationally jet-setting lifestyle....[H]e told his incredulous interviewer, Ed Bradley, that that Saudi Arabia is a country with 'no problems.' When pressed, he insisted, 'What I'm telling you is Saudi Arabia has no civil unrest, no civil disobedience. Sorry. Saudi Arabia is a very stable country. Sure…we had these bombs here and there, but they were all related to a certain subject.'

"Even more troubling than having a Saudi spinmeister, even a lousy one, at the decision-making table of America’s most successful, and conservative, television network is another aspect of Al-Waleed’s deal with Mr. Murdoch. The Australian entrepreneur has reportedly also given the prince the unfiltered ability to broadcast Saudi-produced materials directly into America on Murdoch’s satellite....Prince Al-Waleed’s Rotana Audio Visual Company, which operates TV channels in the Middle East, has signed a deal with DirecTV, the TV-satellite firm controlled by NewsCorp. As a result, it would seem Rotana will be able to beam its programs into U.S. cable boxes without interference from federal regulators, or anybody else."

More details about the deal between Murdoch and the Saudi prince are available. Not being any kind of expert in media economics, I don't understand all of what Gaffney is saying. But my intuition tells me that these details are ripe for exploitation.

Broadcasting in Saudi is controlled and censored by the Saudi government. When I send certain articles to my American friends in Saudi, I have to copy and paste entire stories if the links I'm using are not approved ones. Can Saudi extend their own information-control policy to the media in the United States by means of financial investment? Or has Saudi already quietly extended their policy and we don't even realize it?

I may be way out of line here, but I have to ask the following question: Who holds large shares of ABC/Disney, which owns WMAL Radio, the station which dismissed Michael Graham for making negative statements about Islam?

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