Barada TV Puts Syria's 'YouTube Revolution' On Air Most international media is banned, but hte London-based satellite channel beams in anti-government programming, streaming videos uploaded by protesters. But WikiLeaks revealed the channel has U.S. financial support, costing it credibility inside Syria.
NPR logo

Barada TV Puts Syria's 'YouTube Revolution' On Air

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Barada TV Puts Syria's 'YouTube Revolution' On Air

Barada TV Puts Syria's 'YouTube Revolution' On Air

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


As NPR's Deborah Amos reports, it's beaming anti-government programming into Syria with financial help from the U.S.

DEBORAH AMOS: In an airless room in a Turkish hotel, Malik Al-Abdeh, the chief editor of Barada TV, produces another two-hour live broadcast.


AMOS: It's not going well. Guests don't show up. The engineer, who runs the camera, the lights and the connection to London, sweats as he sits in the interviewees' chair.

MALIK AL: I'm not the guest that's why I'm very stressed at the moment. Sorry about that.

AMOS: Barada TV is definitely a low-tech, barebones broadcast compared to big- budget Arabic satellite channels. But when those channels were barred from Syria, Barada began broadcasting a stream of YouTube videos that young protestors posted online. These images have come to define the Syrian revolution, says Abdeh.

ABDEH: Some people describe the Egyptian revolution as a Facebook revolution. I think, in Syria, it's the YouTube revolution because all the media coming out of Syria, almost all of it is going through YouTube.


AMOS: The most dramatic images are broadcast on traditional outlets, including Western news programs. But protest organizers know they have to continue the flow of pictures, says Abdeh, to keep the story in the public eye. So Abdeh created a daily technology program.

ABDEH: After the revolution, it became a bit more focused on issues to do with avoiding Internet censorship, on helping bloggers, how to use Facebook safely, even how to record demonstrations. We advise them a high place, like a balcony or a rooftop. You notice the videos which are coming out now are from rooftops and balconies.

AMOS: Khabbab Alhashimi, with a Syrian opposition group in Saudi Arabia, says Barada does play an important role.

KHABBAB ALHASHIMI: When people inside see their clips being broadcasted on TV, they feel supported. They believe they are in a very dangerous situation and they need the maximum support.

AMOS: Support for Barada raised questions when the TV channel was linked to secret funding from the U.S. State Department. The diplomatic cable released in April by WikiLeaks showed more than $6 million had been funneled to Syrian opposition groups since 2006. The leak cost Barada credibility inside Syria, says Firas Awad, a businessman from Aleppo.

FIRAS AWAD: America paid $6 million for whom? For people we wish they weren't even Syrians. Who is sitting in London, Paris, New York, whatever? I don't like these kind of people, really.

AMOS: But the channel's chief editor, Malik Al-Abdeh, dismisses the critics as regime supporters. He was in Turkey to take part in the first meeting of the Syrian opposition, which he broadcast on Barada TV.

ABDEH: I don't think people in Syria care very much, I mean, given the fact that they're being shot at, they're being killed, they're being tortured. They're not really bothered about how a channel gets its funding as long as that channel is supporting the revolution and giving them a helping hand. And that's what we're doing.

AMOS: Deborah Amos, NPR News.

Copyright © 2011 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.