New Syria TV – the first attempt by the Syrian opposition to launch a television station – began broadcasting on 17 August but stopped being transmitted on the evening of 26 August. The channel, broadcast via satellite from Brussels, is backed by the opposition National Salvation Front, which is led by former Syrian vice-president Abdel Halim Khaddam, a powerful opposition figure who split from the regime in 2005.
Bashar Elsbei, the head of New Syria TV’s Washington office, said that while the problem might have been caused by a technical glitch, the National Salvation Front suspects the Syrian authorities were responsible for the blackout. Technicians had not yet determined why the signal was not working, said Elsbei, although he was optimistic the station would be broadcasting again by next week.
New Syria TV is broadcast through Eutelsat’s Hotbird network, which is available in Syria and much of the Middle East. The party had hoped that it could use satellite technology to beam opposition views into Syria, where the government maintains a strong grip on the media.