Last year, Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp. significantly increased its ownership in a media entity headed by Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal.
News Corp will pay $35m for the shares, which will take its stake in Rotana to 18.97 percent. Last year, News Corp upped its stake to 14.53 percent.
The acquisition was announced after a meeting of the Rotana board chaired by Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, chairman of Rotana Holding, the Saudi Gazette reported.
Rotana owns the Arab world’s largest record label and about 40 percent of the region’s movies, and operates a number of free-to-air television channels.
Conversely, Bin Talal is the second largest shareholder of Newscorp. As such, the Saudi Prince has demonstrated an ability to influence how news is portrayed on Fox News Channel. For example, back in 2005, during coverage of Muslim riots in France, Fox News displayed a banner that identified the riots for what they were – “Muslim riots”.
Bin Talal relayed what happened next, via Think Progress:
I picked up the phone and called Murdoch… (and told him) these are not Muslim riots, these are riots out of poverty. Within 30 minutes, the title was changed from Muslim riots to civil riots.
This leads us to the kind of programming that airs on the Rotanna network. Does Rupert Murdoch or his son James have the ability to influence Rotana content? Assuming that both are appalled by songs that glorify martyrdom and programs that heap praise on hardened criminals, the answer is most likely no.
First, consider the example of Lebanese singer Fadl Shaker. During a lengthy interview he gave that appeared on Rotana Khalījīya, he sang the following song, translated thusly:
“O Mother, my religion calls me for Jihad and martyrdom.
O Mother I am going to eternity and I will not falter.
O Mother do not cry if I became one of the fallen.
Death does not scare me for my wish is to be martyred.
It’s ‘Allahu Akbar’, every time the bombs sing.
It’s Allahu Akbar, when the bullets announce their sound and chirp. It’s Allahu Akbar, the blood of my brothers is not in vain.
Victory is coming forth and righteousness has elevated its heat.
We refuse to submit and our concern is to erect our banner forever.
We refuse to bow to tyrants.
Death does not fear me and my wish is to be martyred.”
Now that you know what Saker sang, have a look at him singing it:
Another interview that aired on a Rotana program featured a convicted and hardened criminal named Homaidan Al-Turki, who is serving a prison sentence in Colorado for – among other things – theft, human trafficking, enslavement, rape, and molestation of an Indonesian minor. One does not need this interview translated to see that Al-Turki is being a given a platform and presented to an audience that very much wants his release.
Among other things, these examples seem to demonstrate that Bin Talal has the power to exert his influence on Fox News to the point of getting the network to retract truthful reporting. Conversely, the Murdochs are either incapable or unwilling to demand Talal’s network not promote criminals and criminal behavior.