Private radio now makes up nearly half of all FM stations in the Arab world. A new survey from Arab Advisors Group finds that of the 346 FM radio stations broadcasting in 18 Arab nations, 48% are privately owned and operated.
Algeria and the United Arab Emirates have the highest number of local, government-owned FM radio stations while Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon have the highest number of private local radio stations. Eight regional stations broadcast on FM frequencies across multiple countries.
Of the 18 countries surveyed — Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, U.A.E. and Yemen — five do not allow private radio. Libya and Oman are the most recent nations in the region to liberalize their airwaves.
“State-owned radio stations in the Arab World still outnumber private radio stations, although the number of private ones is growing and approaching the number of state-owned radio stations.” Faten Bader, Arab Advisors senior research analyst, wrote in the report. “State-owned radio stations reached 176 by July 2009, up from 157 stations by February 2008, a growth rate of 12.10%. Private radio stations increased from 150 stations by February 2008 to 162 by July 2009, translating into a growth rate of 8%.”