Special Committees Set Up for Media Disputes

King Abdullah issued a royal decree Wednesday setting up four committees to settle media-related issues, Arab News reported. “The decisions taken by the committees do not need any endorsement by the minister of culture and information,” the decree said, adding that defendants could appeal the committees’ verdicts. Muhammad bin Qaud has been appointed to chair the preliminary committee to look into press disputes. The preliminary committee to violations related to electronic, audio and visual publishing is chaired by Ahmed al-Nasser, while the appeal committee is chaired by Ali al-Turki. Establishing these committees means that Sharia courts, largely dominated by conservative clerics, are not going to look into cases involving mainstream media in the country. The measure is likely to have a positive impact on free speech in the country as a result.