One notable feature of Arab broadcasting has been the belated emergence of free-to-air channels for children. Today, with children’s channels a still-expanding feature of the Arab satellite television landscape, the region is witnessing growth in the local animation industry alongside intensified competition for child audiences through imported content and a selective squeeze on state funds. In this context the policies and rationales that inform production and acquisition of children’s content remain far from transparent, beyond occasional public rhetoric about protecting children from material that ‘breaches cultural boundaries and values’ and providing programmes that revere a perceived ‘Arab-Islamic’ heritage and preserve literary forms of the Arabic language. Attempts at promoting children’s genuine participation in Arab television have been rare. Drawing on theoretical literature that links protection and participation in the sense that children’s safety depends on their agency, this paper explores emerging guidelines developed by Arab regulators, broadcasters and others in relation to television content for children.