Syria profile

Man reading Al-Baath newspaper The press is largely controlled by the ruling establishment and is subject to strict censorship

The Syrian uprising has been accompanied by a crackdown on the media. Scores of journalists and citizen journalists have been killed in connection with their activities since the start of the revolt in 2011, says Reporters Without Borders.

The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists ranked Syria as the most dangerous place in the world for journalists in 2012, with 28 journalists "killed in combat or targeted for murder by government or opposition forces".

TV is Syria's most popular medium. The government and ruling party own and control much of the broadcast and print media. Traditional media outlets do not carry criticism of the president, and journalists practice self-censorship.

Syrian state-run TV lost much of its satellite broadcasting capacity in 2012 when leading operators, including Eutelsat and Egypt's Nilesat, suspended carriage of its networks. Eutelsat has accused Syria of jamming satellite TV transmissions, affecting broadcasts from the BBC and other outlets.

Opposition satellite stations broadcast from abroad and have proliferated since 2011; they include London-based Barada TV, UAE-based Orient TV and Al-Ghad TV.

The three main newspapers are state-run. Privately-owned titles are predominantly operated by figures with good government connections. After the 2011 revolt, opposition activists began to publish hand-outs and weekly A4-size papers.

Dissent on the web

With more than 5 million internet users in Syria by June 2012 (Internetworldstats.com), the web has emerged as a vehicle for dissent.

Anti-regime activists have used social media and online video platforms to tell the world about their protests. Some of their footage has been used by mainstream news outlets.

Social media have helped to break the taboos that prevent any criticism of the president and the ruling party. Mocking the Assad government is a staple of the Syrian Facebook scene, and opposition activists distribute satirical content via YouTube.

Nevertheless, the authorities try to censor the internet, blocking many global websites with local appeal, including Facebook and YouTube, as well as opposition sites.

Syria experienced a two-day internet shutdown in late 2012. Officials blamed "terrorists", but IT websites reckoned that the move was a deliberate government exercise.

Meanwhile, an Assad government-backed "cyber army" has waged a "disinformation battle", spreading false information and engaging in hacking and phishing, says Reporters Without Borders.

The press

Television

  • Syrian TV - state-run, operates domestic and satellite networks
  • Al-Dunya TV - private, pro-government
  • Orient News - opposition, via satellite, based in Dubai
  • Al-Ghad - opposition, via satellite

Radio

News agency

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