04/25/2014, 00.00
SAUDI ARABIA
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YouTube to respect Islamic laws and customs

Content providers to the video-sharing website will have to follow "rules and conditions" that respect "the nature of society and laws", this according to president of the country's General Authority for Audiovisual Media, a move deemed "alarming, a threat for us," his according to a content producer.

Dubai (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Saudi authorities plan to regulate local companies producing content for YouTube, this in the world's top per capita user of the video-sharing website.

Dissatisfaction over state broadcasters' staid programming and societal restrictions have created a uniquely captive audience for web-based entertainment.

The General Authority for Audiovisual Media, a recently formed watchdog, will soon issue a manifesto to organise - or regulate - the work of YouTube channels, said its president, Ryiadh Najm.

The plan will include rules and conditions that will be "in accordance with the nature of society and laws in this context", Najm said, whilst allowing it to embrace "these talents and developing their artistic and technical abilities".

The proposed new rules follow a new Saudi law that defines as terrorist any act that "disturbs public order, shakes the security of society, or subjects its national unity to danger, or obstructs the primary system of rule or harms the reputation of the state".

Until now, Saudi YouTube programme makers have been able to operate without a licence because they are not actual broadcasters.

Channels like UTURN Entertainment and C3 have attracted more than 500 million views for their various YouTube shows as of mid-September 2013.

"Until we see the details, it's a bit alarming, a threat for us," said Kaswara Al Khatib, chairman and chief executive of UTURN Entertainment.

"The whole idea is to regulate it in a way to make sure where the areas are to be played with and the areas that should not be touched," said Al Khatib.

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