The UK media regulator Ofcom has banned Saudi Arabia from paying to promote its so-called reform agenda on British television.
The move was prompted after revelations that Saudi Arabia had breached British broadcasting law by buying television adverts that promoted the reform policies of the country’s crown prince, such as the lifting of long-standing bans on women drivers and cinemas.
This is while Saudi reforms have been accompanied by heavy-handed crackdown on dissent against the kingdom’s critics, ranging from clerics to some of the very female activists who campaigned for years to end the bans.
In one case cited by Ofcom in the Guardian, Riyadh had paid to air a minute-long advert which included images of old and contemporary Saudi Arabia, women driving, cinemas being reopened, entertainment, cultural events and members of the Saudi royal family.
The advertisement was aired 56 times on Britain’s Sky One channel back in March, around the time Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made an official visit to the UK.