Turkey-based Syria TV reaches out to region
İpek Yezdani – ISTANBUL
Syria TV, a satellite channel devoted to Syria and its people, has been broadcasting from the Sefaköy neighborhood of the Küçükçekmece district of Istanbul since its launch last year in March.
Not only does it broadcast to Syrians in Turkey, but also the ones in Syria, the Middle East, the Balkans and Europe. It is even followed by the areas controlled by the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria.
The channel handles the problems Syrians — both in Syria and outside of Syria — have been going through, Malek Daghestani, who assumed the CEO position in the channel about two months ago, told daily Hürriyet.
“As the war in Syria has entered its ninth year, the Syrian people have dispersed all over the world. This is why there had to be a platform where Syrians living in Syria and abroad could gather. And our aim is to be a platform that can address all Syrians. For example, on the program ‘Coming together,’ which is aired every day, we talk about the pains, worries and joys of Syrians living in Syria as well as the Syrian diaspora, in an attempt to touch upon the details of their lives,” he said.
Half of the programs aired on the channel are news and political debate programs, Daghestani said. Sometimes also Turkish journalists and experts are hosted on these political debate programs, he said.
When looked at the online views of the channel, it has been “breaking records,” according to Daghestani.
When asked what kind of a broadcasting policy Syria TV has, Daghestani said: “Our aim is that Syria in the future becomes a total democracy, instead of a military or religious dictatorship.”
Daghestani said that the channel currently has four journalists based in Syria’s Idlib, Aleppo and Hama, two journalists in Turkey’s southern provinces of Gaziantep and Hatay, three journalists in Europe and one journalist in Washington D.C.
“The majority of Syria TV employees are professional journalists and TV staff. At the moment, you can follow the latest developments on Syria from our channel. Considering that especially international media organizations do not have many journalists left in Syria, we are the ones giving the latest developments,” he said.
Around 200 people work at Syria TV. Fifteen of these employees are Turks, while the rest are mostly Syrians. But there are also staff from Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan.
Syria TV is part of the Qatar-based Fadaat Media network.
A graduate of the economics department of the University of Damascus, Daghestani served as a political prisoner for nine years under Hafez al-Assad, the leader of Syria between 1970 and 2000 and the father of the current leader.
When an arrest warrant was issued for his daughter in the aftermath of the civil war, Daghestani fled to Turkey with his family in 2012. He has served as a consultant in various media organizations in Turkey since then, until he assumed the CEO position on Syria TV.