- The Guardian reported on Tuesday that Vice Media blocked news stories that could potentially offend the government of Saudi Arabia after the media company recently signed a high-profile deal with the MBC Group, which the Saudi government controls.1
- The report cites John Lubbock, a freelance writer, who said that he and two other writers were tasked by Vice to author a piece about Saudi youth campaigning for transgender rights. After intervention by senior management, Lubbock's story was pulled before a deadline.1
- Managers at Vice said that the decision was motivated by the possibility that the story could pose a threat to the outlet's staff in Saudi Arabia. In another recent example, a Vice film about Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman was deleted after being uploaded, allegedly for the same reason.1
- Following the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Vice said it would pause all work in Saudi Arabia. However, in early 2020, it secretly helped organize a music festival in the kingdom.2
- In January of this year, Vice signed a deal with the Saudi-owned MBC Group, saying that the new content created exclusively for MBC would include a range of topics including the visual arts and video games. Production was established in Vice’s Riyadh office, with the agreement including support for regional creators.3
- Vice, which at one point was one of the biggest media companies in the industry, has endured financial stress. Its “Vice News Tonight” program was canceled, and the outlet also filed for bankruptcy in May.4
- Narrative A, as provided by Al Mayadeen English. Vice, which has already lost so much of its credibility, is seeing the last nail in the coffin as the company has decided to rebrand as a mouthpiece for the Saudi royal family. Though the kingdom has plenty of money to wield influence, its awful human rights record has improved little, and Vice's acquiescence to Saudi interests is morally repugnant.
- Narrative B, as provided by Al Arabiya English. Vice, which has granted endured financial trouble in recent years, plans to re-orient itself away from the news and toward culture and lifestyle media. Vice has worked in Saudi Arabia since 2017 and has maintained its editorial independence. Saudi Arabia only seeks to energize the country and the region's youth.