The Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information (MOCI) has granted the country’s first private FM radio broadcasting licence to Alf Alf, which paid US$20 million for the privilege.
The radio broadcaster beat 10 shortlisted rivals to secure the licence, including Prince Alwaleed’s Rotana AV, pan-Arab network ART and Saudi Specialised Publishing Company (SSPC).
Under the terms of the deal, Alf Alf’s new service must cover 30 regional centres across Saudi Arabia, with 15 mandated by the Saudi MOCI.
The ministry has said it will issue four more licenses in the next two months.
“The short-listed companies and other qualified companies can make their bids to win one of the remaining four licences,” said Saudi Culture and Information Minister Abdul Aziz Khoja in an interview with Arab News.
Khoja added that the MOCI’s mandatory licencing regime for satellite television service operators based in the Kingdom was also now operational.
“Two days ago we licensed a satellite TV channel station,” he said. “From now on, no Saudi channel can appear without the license of the MOCI,” he added.