Chronicle of the Middle East and North Africa

Media Diversity

The diversity of Syrian media is limited. Not only are there relatively few media forms, but the majority of both radio or television networks and print media are run either by the government or by the ruling Baath Party, as are the websites corresponding to these old media. Since Bashar al-Assad became President in 2000, privately-owned media have been allowed, provided they obtain a license from the government, which is difficult and offers no permanent guarantee of continuance. However, there are many satellite channels in the region and satellite receivers are ubiquitous in Syria. Many websites are also run from abroad, although all sites overtly opposed to the Syrian government have been blocked, as well as Kurdish websites. Most Syrian media are published or broadcast only in Arabic, with the exception of a small – but growing – number of media in English. The minority languages – for instance Aramaic, Armenian, and of course Kurdish – are hardly found on Syrian websites (but they are on some Lebanese sites).