Freedom of expression and media in Kuwait
Media in Kuwait serves as a watchdog of people's conscience, for respecting the principles and values of the country and upholding the rights of the people.
The constitution of Kuwait upholds the rights of opinion, guarantees the freedom of expression, freedom of press and freedom of communication.
Freedom of Speech is guaranteed by the constitution under Article 36 which states 'Every person will have the right to express his opinion by speaking or writing or otherwise'. Kuwaitis are very proud of always being able to speak their mind. Being outspoken is a characteristic feature of the Kuwaiti people and this freedom has always been something that many in the Gulf region envy them for.
Freedom of Press is also enshrined in the constitution under Article 37 which states, 'Freedom of the Press and of publication is guaranteed'. Media license can only be cancelled by a Court order.
Kuwait has a very large number of newspapers. Modern Kuwait's print media had its beginning in the 1920s, expanding in the 1960s with the emergence of a number of publications. The print media include a variety of daily, weekly and monthly newspapers and magazines with a diversity of opinions. There are 14 Arabic and 3 English newspapers that circulate in Kuwait. These are all privately owned, enjoy a great deal of independence and are diverse in their reporting. However, there are some limitations on this freedom. Although the Press and publications law extend some important protection to the media, yet the media adheres to self censorship on sensitive issues like religion, public morality and the Amir. The reporting is very lively, even on domestically controversial issues.
Just as Kuwait is geographically bounded by Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the Sea, so is the mass media triangularly sandwiched between Kuwait's political and economic loyalty to its citizens, its religious loyalty to Islam and other Arab nations and its dedication to the concept of freedom of speech is fundamental to democracy.
His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Amir of the State of Kuwait highlights the role of the Kuwaiti Media when he said 'local media should play a favorable and responsible role in protecting and maintaining the country's national achievements'. Thus the media is a civilized torch of knowledge, ensuring credibility and integrity. Kuwait News Agency, popularly known as KUNA is the news gate that works as a funnel for information.
Kuwait's electronic media has emerged as a strong medium of information and entertainment. The State owns 9 local radio stations and 5 television stations while there are 16 privately owned television stations. The first radio broadcasts originated in 1951. They provide public programs 24 hours a day.
Kuwait TV originally started in 1957, initially as a private enterprise. Kuwait's satellite channel started transmission in 1992. Use of social media is gaining popularity and Kuwait has the highest percentage, 82.1 percent, social media users in the Gulf region.
The commission for Mass Communications and Information Technology regulates the digital communication like phone, internet, cable and satellite service providers. They regulate online crime like the use of fake identity or hacking into systems.
International news is widely available and a number of foreign media outlets maintain bureaus in Kuwait.
There is an independent Kuwait Journalist Association that upholds the positive interest of the fast growing media. The Cyber Crime Law, passed in 2015, set guidelines for exercising freedom of express on the internet.
A recent study carried by the Gulf Strategic Studies Centre in Cairo revealed that the Press in Kuwait is freely practicing all forms social, administrative and political criticism.