Syria - Media Landscape
|Government||Republic, military-dominated regime|
|Suffrage||Universal; 18 yrs of age|
|Currency||Syrian pound (SYP)|
|Population||19.3 m (2007)|
|Area||185. 180 sq km|
|Total imports (%EU)||€15.2 bn (2006) (18,6%)|
|Total exports (%EU)||€9.7 bn (2006) (40%)|
|GDP||€26 bn (2006)|
|GDP per capita||€1.382 (2006)|
|Unemployment||8,5% (registered) (2006)|
|Internet users (per 1000 people)||80|
|Languages||Arabic (official); Kurdish, Armenian, Aramaic, Circassian widely understood French, English somewhat understood|
The Syrian press is not free. It could possibly be characterised as corrupt, found an investigation of Freedom House, an organisation which investigates the level of press freedom in each country.
There was a brief flowering of press freedom in Syria after Bashar al-Assad became president in 2000. For the first time in nearly 40 years, private publications were licensed. New titles included political party papers and a satirical journal.
Syrian TV had begun carrying out political programmes and debates in which formerly taboo issues are discussed, such as criticising the government. The Press Law of 2001, however, allowed the government to suspend publications after violating rules governing the content. Publications are watchdogged by appointed members of the government.
Private, commercial FM broadcasters are allowed, but are not supposed to transmit news or political issues.
Syria has around 1.5 million Internet users. The web has somewhat of a vehicle around censorship. Yet, Reporters Without Borders states that “Syria is one of the worst offenders against Internet freedom and censors opposition and independent news websites.”
A variety of newspapers can be found in Syria. The five national daily newspapers are Al-Thawra, Teshreen, Al-Watan, which is the only private owned daily newspaper, buts license is inthe Damascus free so and therefore it enters daily as it is imported from another country, Baladna and Syria Times. The latter newspaper is published in English. Its main target group is tourists and immigrants. Next to these daily papers are official political parties’ newspapers, namely Al-Baath, which is a daily newspaper, and Al-Wahdawi, An-Nour and Sawt ash-Shaab. All of these publish weekly. Some niche newspapers exist, dealing, for example, with economics or sports. The newspapers are written in either the national language, Arabic, or English or French. Some papers are available in more than one language, such as the Al-Thawra.
One of the most important magazines is the Syria Today, an English-language, independently produced magazine. The content of this magazine is mostly about culture, politics and current affairs.
Syria has one main broadcaster, which produces both for television and radio. It is called the General Organization of Radio and Television Syria, or ORTAS. The television department was established in 1960. It operates out of the capital of the country, Damascus. The channel airs programmes in Arabic, English and French.
The Syrian authority has started to give licenses for satellite channel in the Damascus free zone such as Al-Sham, which was banned and forced to depart to Egypt, and Aldounia, which was owned by a group of businessmen related to the regime, which broadcast now.
Other television channels available in Syria do not necessarily have to be of Syrian origin. Syrian citizens receive many different Arab television channels, as Al-Jazeera,, which is headquartered in Qatar. Showtime Arabia has its headquarters in Dubai.
More than seven private radio stations are operating currently in the FM wave, but they are allowed by law to broadcast only songs, advertisement and cultural issues.
There are approximately 4.15 million radios in Syria. Syrian radio is often listened to, but many other Arabic-language channels are heard as well. Popular Arabic channels, such as AmmanNet, are also popular. The largest radio station is the radio department of the General Organization of Radio and Television Syria, which was founded in 1946.
Nearly all radio, television and newspapers have their own website, on which a variety of information can be found. Furthermore, there are several online-only websites. Most of them are only available in Arabic.
The Syrian government does not want its citizens to have access to blogs or social networking sites as Facebook. Access to these sites is often denied. According to the head of the National Association for Human Rights, Amman al-Qurabi, authorities have been asked about why these sites are prohibited and “they said Facebook could become a conduit for Israeli penetration of our youth, but the real reason for blocking the forum is because it provides for criticism of the authorities” (Article).
Still, a small bloggosphere is able to be found:
- Al-Safahat- Blog featuring political and cultural articles about Syria
- Syria Comment - This blog features thoughts on Syrian politics, history and religion
One of the most important websites in All4syria.info. This is the most widely-read electronic media news and opinion source in Syria, which has over 17,000 daily subscribers. It is considered by many locals to be the most improtant non-traditional news source in the country. All4syria.org is the only media where both senior government officials and opposition leaders write articles side-by-side without censorship, edits or intervention.
Syria has three main mobile phone networking companies: MTN Syria (JSC), Syrian Telecommunication Est. (Mobile Syria), which has a monopoly for landline, and Syriatel Mobile Telecom SA. Of these, SyriaTel is the largest corporation, serving around 2.5 million Syrian citizens, a 55 percent cell phone market share.
Learning and support
Arts department – bachelor’s degree in journalism
Syria has two main media organisations: the Union of Syrian Journalists and the Syrian Arab News Agency, or SANA. Both are situated in Damascus, the capital of Syria.
- Al-Thawra News
- Syria Times
- Syria News
- Syria Report
- Surion (N/A)
- Amman Net
- Syrian Telecom
Syrian Arab News Agency
Syrian Arab Republic
Tel.: +963 112 12 9703
Syria, Damascus, Mazah