Media of Syria
The media of Syria consists primarily of television, radio, Internet, film and print. The national language of Syria is Arabic but some publications and broadcasts are also available in English and French. While television is the most popular media in Syria, the Internet has become a widely utilized vehicle to disseminate content. Transcending all available media, the government seeks to control what Syrians see by restricting coverage from outside sources. Publications and broadcasts are monitored by members of the government. Syria is ranked as one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists. There were 28 journalists killed in combat in 2012.
Prohibitive measures against media
State of emergency law
The constitution of the Syrian Arab Republic guaranteed the right to a free press and freedom of expression, but Syria was under a highly restrictive state of emergency law since the Ba'ath Party came to power in 1964 until 2011. Anyone wishing to establish an independent paper or periodical must apply for a license from the Ministry of Information. In 2011 the state of emergency was lifted. This seems to have had no effect what-so-ever on the way the government conducted itself regarding the media, with Syria's ranking actually worsening the following year with journalistic organizations such as the Committee to Protect Journalists, and Reporters Without Borders both ranking Syria as one of the top four most repressive countries in the world.
There are over 5 million Internet users in Syria. Reporters Without Borders lists Syria as an “internet enemy” due to high levels of censorship. The Internet is controlled by the Syrian Computer Society (SCS) and the Syrian Telecommunications Establishment (STE). The government monitors activity through the hacking of emails and social networking accounts and phishing. Simultaneously, the government releases pro-Assad propaganda and false information to support its cause. The law requires Internet cafes to record all comments in the online chatrooms. There was a two-day Internet blackout in 2012, which was likely orchestrated by the government. Authorities have blocked journalists and bloggers from attending and reporting on events by arresting and torturing them. This is not limited to Syrian journalists as members of the Associated Press and Reuters have been arrested and expelled from the country for their reporting.
Reporters Without Borders ranked Syria 173rd out of 178 countries in the world on the Press Freedom Index in October 2010. On the Press Freedom Barometer for 2013, the organization reports that 5 journalists have been killed, 21 journalists, 1 media assistant, and 18 netizens have been imprisoned.
Alwatan, a private daily published by businessman Rami Makhlouf, President Assad's cousin, has started recently with a circulation that is growing steadily. Aliqtisadi and Forward Magazine are two private newsmagazines, published by businessman Abdulsalam Haykal, Assad's friend. Forward Magazine, which carries the same name as the New York Jewish weekly, addresses the American audience. A major advertising group owned by Majed Suleiman, son of a former senior intelligence officer, runs the non-political daily Baladna. The only other political publication Abyad wa Aswad (White and Black) is owned by Bilal Turkmani, son of the former defense minister, Hasan Turkmani. Other government-friendly businesspeople started a satellite television channel called Addounia TV, which excludes political news.
There is one main broadcaster for both television and radio called the General Organization of Radio and Television Syria (ORTAS). It was founded in 1960 and is based in Damascus. The channel has programs in Arabic, English and French. TV is the most popular media in Syria.
- Addounia TV
- Arrai TV
- Cham TV
- General Organization of Radio and TV (RTV)
- Massaya TV
- Noor Al-Sham
- Sama TV
- Syria TV
- Syrian Drama TV
- Syrian Education TV
- Syrian Medical TV
- Syrian News Channel
- Talaqie TV
- Channel 1 (Terrestrial, with Arabic focus)
- Channel 2 (Terrestrial, with sport, family and health focus including regional variants)
The Syrian film industry is state-run by the Ministry of Culture, which controls production through the National Organization for Cinema. The industry is largely propaganda based, focusing on Syria’s successes in agriculture, health, transportation and infrastructure.
- Syrian Arab Republic Radio
Internet and social media
- Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA)
- Ministry of Religious Affairs site
- General Authority for Development site
- Government of Hama-city of heavy clashes between rebels and the government
There are also satellite stations which broadcast outside Syria. Two of the primary satellite networks, Eutelsat and Nilesat, have recently expressed frustrations over the Syrian government preventing satellite TV transmissions broadcast from international outlets.
- Al-Ghad: opposition paper
- Al-Ahd (The Vow)- published by the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood
- Free Syria-weekly published in Gaziantep, Turkey. Stories tend to support pluralism, moderate Islam and democracy
- Brigades: published by a military brigade to raise questions about the origins of extremist Muslim fighters
- Sham-published by the Sham News Network, which is an activist news organization. It is privately financed. Each 16-page edition includes coverage of culture, translation from foreign news sources and cartoons that are critical of the Assad government.
- Pamphlets: Muslim extremist groups such as Nusra Front and Jabhet al-Nusra utilize pamphlets to disseminate their ideas
Recently, the Internet has offered filmmakers a new outlet to broadcast their films. One example of this is that every Friday, since April 2011, volunteers, formed by Abounaddara, have posted a short film on the Internet depicting the social side of the conflict.
- Al-Madina FM: Syria's first private radio station
- Radio FRESH : FM radio broadcast established October 2014 in Kafr Nabl
- Radio Free Syria : English-language web broadcast based in Gaziantep, Turkey
Internet and social media
With the breakdown of many traditional media outlets during the civil war, much of the current events are reported by individuals on Facebook and Twitter. However, the reliability of such reports can in many cases not be independently verified by credible news agencies. While many websites have appeared and publish a pro-opposition alternative to regime media, the lack of robust journalistic standards has often benefited the government since correctly denying news reports gives them more credibility.
- Kafranbel Syrian Revolution (Facebook page) : Run by opposition activists in Kafr Nabl; known for producing topical English-language banners
- Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently : Citizen journalism effort exposing human rights abuses by ISIS forces occupying the northern Syrian city of Raqqa.
- Cinema of Syria
- List of newspapers in Syria
- List of radio stations in Syria
- List of Syrian films
- Syrian Civil War
- Media coverage of the Syrian Civil War
- Telecommunications in Syria
- Television in Syria
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