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.[1] 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.[2] Publications and broadcasts are monitored by members of the government.[1] Syria is ranked as one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists. There were 28 journalists killed in combat in 2012.[3]

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.[4] In 2011 the state of emergency was lifted.[5] 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,[6] and Reporters Without Borders[7] both ranking Syria as one of the top four most repressive countries in the world.

Internet censorship

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).[8] 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.[9] The law requires Internet cafes to record all comments in the online chatrooms.[10] There was a two-day Internet blackout in 2012, which was likely orchestrated by the government.[3] 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.[9]

Press freedom

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.[9]


Public media journalists practice self-censorship.[3] Public media consists of television, print, film, radio and internet and social media.

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.


Main article: Television in Syria

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.[1] TV is the most popular media in Syria.[3]

Satellite channels

Terrestrial channels



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.[11]


There are over 4 million radios in Syria. They tend to broadcast music, ads and stories relating to culture.[1]

Internet and social media

Providing hosting services is a violation of United States sanctions.[12] Some of the official Syrian government websites include:

Pro-rebel media

The public does have access to Western radio stations and satellite TV, and Qatar-based Al Jazeera has become very popular in Syria.[4]

In August 2012, a media centre utilized by foreign reporters in Azaz was targeted by the Syrian Air Force in an airstrike on a civilian area during Ramadan.[13]


Main article: Television in Syria

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.[3]

Satellite channels



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.[16]


Internet and social media

Main article: Internet in Syria

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.[18]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 European Neighborhood Journalism Network (n.d.). "Syria-media profile". European Neighborhood Journalism Network. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
  2. Nick Sturdee (10 February 2013). "BBC documentary examines Syria's state TV channel al Ikhbariya". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 March 2013.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 "Country profile: Syria". BBC News. 30 January 2013.
  4. 1 2 Syria country profile. Library of Congress Federal Research Division (April 2005). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  5. Khaled Yacoub Oweis (21 April 2011). "Syria's Assad ends state of emergency". Reuters. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
  6. "10 Most Censored Countries". Committee to Protect Journalists. 2 May 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
  7. "Press Freedom Index 2011-2012". Reporters Without Borders. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved 14 August 2012.
  8. "Syria". Reporters Without Borders. 2012.
  9. 1 2 3 "Syria". Reporters Without Borders. 1 September 2011.
  10. "There is no media in Syria at all". Irish Times. 11 April 2012.
  11. Rasha Salti (2006). "Critical Nationals: The Paradoxes of Syrian Cinema" (PDF). Kosmorama. Danish Film Institute (Copenhagen). Retrieved 15 February 2013.
  12. 1 2 New York Times (November 29, 2012). "Official Syrian Web sites hosted in U.S.". New York Times. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  13. "Syrian warplanes hammer rebel border town". Al Jazeera. 15 August 2012. Retrieved 15 August 2012.
  14. "Syria's media war". Columbia Journalism Review.
  15. "Syrian newspapers emerge to fill out war reporting".
  16. 1 2 "Two faces of Syrian cinema on show in paris".
  17. "من نحن ؟". Fresh Net. Retrieved 2016-01-23.
  18. Macfarquhar, Neil (2013-04-01). "Syrian Newspapers Emerge to Fill Out War Reporting". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-01-23.
  19. "Kafranbel: a paradigm of creative storytelling (Part 1/2)". openDemocracy. Retrieved 2016-01-23.
  20. "Rising Up and Rising Down". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 2016-01-23.
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