As is usual in the Middle East, it is difficult to separate fact from fiction. For example, over the weekend it was widely reported that news broadcaster Al Jazeera had launched a new channel but one that carried the logo and on-screen style of Syria’s main satellite channel. The channel is said to be based across the border from Syria in Amman, Jordan.
The report was backed by bulletins from Syria’s SANA news agency warning viewers not to believe any “false information” carried by the channel, nor similar “false” news from other non-Syrian sources.
Lebanese reports on Monday quoted Syrian authorities of accusing Western plans to ‘hijack’ Syria’s national TV channels. “An information ministry source warned that Western intelligence are planning, in cooperation with some Arab parties, to hijack the frequencies of Syrian satellite channels,” state news agency SANA reported.
It said the aim would be “to broadcast false news on an alleged coup d’etat or … military defections or the fall of certain cities,” in the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad.
Other reports talk of TV-inspired kidnappings of Syria TV’s main news anchors. A French-based Syrian opposition group, quoted by BBC Monitoring, talks of rebels carrying out some acts, but also saying “This government and its media people (or at least most of them) are characterised by an unenviable stupidity, thick-mindedness, and awful political upbringing…”