The media wars of Syria: frequencies corrupted and channels blocked in TV tit-for-tat
Last night the big three pro-Assad TV stations were blocked on both NileSat and ArabSat satellite services. It was the latest move in a covert media war being played out by the pro and anti-regime players across the Arab world.
Dunya TV, Akhbariya Souriya and the official Syrian satellite channel are usually broadcast on two different frequencies abroad but both were blocked last night. This morning NileSat and ArabSat reinstated one of the frequencies but the second was still inactive.
The media war is being played out in parallel to the one happening on the ground in Syria. Initially state networks corrupted the signals of AlArabiya and AlJazeera stations, both known supporters of the opposition. This time the retaliation is the other way round.
It’s a damning indictment of how far governments in the Middle East are in control of their press. It’s no coincidence, for example, that AlArabiya, a network funded by Sunni Saudi Arabia, is a supporter of the FSA.
Equally pro-Shia Syrian state networks clearly let their sectarian leanings interfere in their journalism when they impaired the signals of the two most prominent anti-Assad news networks.
NileSat is a government owned Egyptian broadcast service and it is no stretch to see the correlation between the Egyptian presidents pro-FSA speech and the block put on Dunya and Akhbariya.
Just 24 hours before the block, President Morsi spoke out in Tehran about the crimes of the Assad regime. Speaking at the Non-Aligned Movement Summit, he declared it an “ethical duty” to support the Syrian people against the “oppressive regime” of Bashar al-Assad.
ArabSat, the other blocker, was founded in 1976 by the (then) 22 member states of the Arab League. Syria was one of the founding members of the League but by November last year the other states had decided to suspend Syria’s membership.
So it comes as no surprise that a League-owned TV service would be among those to block official Syrian state TV. However it could hardly be called a victory for independent media in the region.
What do you think about the media wars of Syria? Is it petty journalism or is there more at stake? Tell us below.