The Private Media in Syria

(Hivos & University of Amsterdam)

This working paper is about the private media in Syria. A new publishing law was passed in 2001, which allowed the private sector to re-enter the media industry, having been banned from it since 1963. The relatively high number of approved publications since 2001 provides the Ministry of Information with an argument in its favour, which it uses every time the media situation in Syria is discussed.

However, even though the new law does not impose censorship as a prerequisite, it does remain very repressive and contains an arsenal of restrictions that complicat the work of journalists. It also affects all other forms of publication in Syria and entering the country from abroad, as well as printing presses, with sanctions ranging from fines to imprisonment. In appearance, there are many indicators of an increased openness, but closer scrutiny of the way that the media actually function gives a better understanding of this distinctively Syrian “static reform”.

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