Like a Bat-Signal to the media industry, a private subsidiary of the Saudi Ministry of Information filed documents with the Department of Justice announcing a new “digital news platform.”
Journalism is thriving and Taqnia ETS, a firm overseen by a company called the Saudi Technology Development and Investment Co. and funded by the $400 billion Public Investment Fund, which has members of the royal family on its board, is getting in the game (much like many titans before it, such as Bryan Goldberg’s Bustle Digital Group).
News of the media venture – which was mentioned in foreign-lobbying disclosures filed in accordance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) – comes six months after the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia began hiring a team of lobbyists to work under the Biden administration and three years after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman approved an operation to murder and dismember Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi.
Taqnia ETS has hired an LLC called “Prime Time Media” to create what they describe as “English content for news platform,” according to the lobbying documents. Prime Time Media, which was paid some $1.6 million for the contract, will prime-time primarily make video content. The posts will appear on “an international online platform” before the end of the year, Prime Time Media CEO Elie Nakouzi told my dad in an email:
Hello Mr. Hitt, it’s nice to e-meet you,
Taqnia ETS plans to launch an international online platform before the end of this year; however, I am not entitled to speak on their behalf. My company, Prime Time Media is a production house with studios in Washington, D.C. We are experts in video production and we don’t offer lobbying or PR services.
Prime Time has hired two U.S.-based journalists as writers and “presenters:” Eric Ham, a former contributor to the BBC, Al Jazeera, and The Washington Diplomat, and Craig Boswell, a newscaster who has worked for Fox, CBS, and NBC.
It remains to be seen whether Taqnia will exert any influence over Prime Time’s editorial content or if it will support independent journalism wholeheartedly. We do hope they form a softball team, though.