Murdoch calls for creative freedom in the Middle East

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has called on regional governments to regulate with a ‘light touch’ in order to build an effective creative industry in the Gulf.

During the opening speech of the inaugural Abu Dhabi Media Summit yesterday, the chairman and CEO of News Corp emphasized the incentives that will help money flow to those who invest in creativity. He stressed “the need for global competition to help make local media companies strong… and the reminder that a creative sector flourishes best in societies where governments intervene with a light hand. With these incentives in place, you will build a creative sector worthy of the great capital you have planned.”

He added: “Human creativity flourishes in freedom. By making the decision for greater openness, you will signal the importance you have assigned to creativity in your plans for the future – and declare your confidence in your people.”

Murdoch’s keynote speech at the summit, which is being attended by Maurice Lévy of Publicis, AOL’s Tim Armstrong, and Google’s Eric Schmidt, followed on from Monday’s announcement of a partnership between News Corps’ Fox International Channels and Abu Dhabi’s twofour54, and the purchase of a 9.09 per cent stake in Rotana.

“Your citizens should be free to take full advantage of human creativity wherever they find it,” he said. “But they also deserve the opportunity to add their own creative contributions to our vast and growing media world. Left alone, these creative talents remain constrained by arbitrary boundaries. To make this talent bloom, you need businesses willing to invest in creativity, to nurture talent, and to build audiences that will buy and enjoy the fruits of this enterprise. That takes the right incentives. By unlocking the creativity of your people, you can diversify your economy, provide millions of jobs for a rising generation, and give the Arab people a global voice and influence commensurate with your importance.

“Right now the world does not think of the Middle East when it thinks of creative content. Even your own citizens often look elsewhere for a film or television show or news site. As a result, many of your own citizens prefer Hollywood movies or American television shows to local production. So what do you need to encourage your creative sector? Obviously you need money. High-quality content is expensive. The simple fact is that if you want quality content, you need to encourage a marketplace where money flows to those who invest in and create that content.”

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