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The New Arab Staff

Syria TV marks third anniversary by adapting to changing needs of Syrian society

Syria TV began broadcasting in 2018 [YouTube / Screengrab]

Date of publication: 5 March, 2021

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A pioneering Syrian TV station has celebrated its third anniversary with a new range of programmes geared to an audience which has experienced great change due to revolution and conflict.

Last Wednesday marked the third anniversary of the launch of Syria TV, a pioneering channel launched by Fadaat Media in 2018, dedicated to coverage of all aspects of Syrian society beyond the narrow lens of war and conflict.

The channel is planning to celebrate by launching a new range of programmes designed to answer the constantly changing needs of Syrian society, while remaining true to the values of freedom and dignity proclaimed by the protesters who took part in the 2011 uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

It is currently based in Turkey where over three million Syrian refugees live.

Among the new programmes is one called “The Damascus Forum” which seeks to revive the rich culture of political and intellectual dialogue and debate which existed in Syria before the Baath Party, which Assad leads today, seized power and established a dictatorship in 1963.

Another programme, called “Fakebook” fact-checks information being spread on social media in a systematic way, pointing out fake news and baseless rumours, while a programme called “Prescription” hosts specialist doctors and provides accurate health information to Syrians, at a time when over 70% of the country’s healthworkers have fled into exile.

Hamza al-Mustafa, the head of Syria TV, told The New Arab’s Arabic-language service that the channel’s new programmes, while responding to the current needs of Syrian society, were still rooted in Syria TV’s original style and aims.

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“Every television station starts with an experimental or preliminary phase where it gains experience and tests the attractiveness of its content… celebrating the third anniversary will effectively mark an end to the preliminary phase and the beginning of a more stable and firm period as far as the programme schedule is concerned.”

Al-Mustafa added that the channel’s new production values would be marked by “clarity and simplicity”.

Many of the new programmes launched by the channel, such as one called “The Syrian Memory” are aimed at preserving the history of what happened in Syria over the past ten years. This is especially relevant today, when Syrian activists fear that the documentation and evidence of events and atrocities they have uploaded to social media platforms are in danger of being erased.

“Preserving memory and protecting narratives, reviewing and investigating them is a difficult goal which requires institutions, because it is too heavy for individuals to bear. As a national media institution, Syria TV decided to take part in this field,” Al-Mustafa told The New Arab’s Arabic service.

“’The Syrian Memory’ will verbally document Syria’s history in its various dimensions – political, social, economic, and cultural, so that Syrians will discover hidden aspects of their history, particularly in the current conditions.”

Regarding Syria TV’s political line, Al-Mustafa said that the channel would uphold the democratic principles proclaimed in the 2011 Syrian uprising without adopting any specific opposition agenda.

“Syria TV is a media institution which has adopted the universal principles of freedom, dignity, and democracy espoused by the 2011 revolution. We are open about our support for these principles against the dictatorship in Damascus. But on this basis we are not an opposition institution in a political or organizational sense, that is the job of politicians,” he said.

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