Syria Radio Network
Since September 2013 MiCT has been overseeing the development of the Syria Radio Network – SYRNET.org, a network of radio stations heard throughout Syria. The project’s aim is to diversify the information sources on Syrian airwaves and to help opposition media producers increase their professionalism; most of the opposition media is run by self-taught activists.
Part of the project involves forging connections among all of the broadcasters taking part, then combining their work into one broadcast, to be transmitted on VHF channels, via satellite and the internet. The local radio stations often use content from other stations as part of their own broadcasts and in doing so, build communities of content producers with common interests.
Localised reports then end up circulating more widely and on a national basis. The SYRNET team in Berlin works on a daily basis with the different Syrian radio stations, and follows up on program development and increasing the journalistic quality of the production. The reports are broadcast via FM antennae that MiCT erected inside Syria. Besides on-the-job coaching, MiCT runs a training program composed of up to eight workshops and meetings per year to qualify the radio stations and journalists in several aspects, like investigative journalism and media management. Part of the project also involves the production of smaller micro-transmitters that allow for broadcasting inside Syria but which are harder for officials to detect than the FM antennae.
The nine radio stations involved in the project also agreed on a code of conduct that commits to journalistic standards like balanced reporting and respect for privacy and accuracy, as well as coming up with general policy on matters particularly relevant to this conflict. These include such aspects as avoiding discrimination on an ethnic or sectarian basis or the glorification of violence.
As part of the Syrian radio networking project, MICT has designed a small modular FM transmitter, called Pocket FM. Larger FM aerials are problematic, as they can be easily detected and, in a conflict situation, endanger broadcasting journalists. As a solution, cheap and robust transmitters with a range of up to 8 kilometres were developed and produced. They can be easily deployed in private households or by individuals in urban centres at minimal cost and risk. The transmitters create an independent broadcasting network, eminently suitable for conflict or crisis areas. Pocket FM generation 3 is the latest development of these devices. Currently, MiCT operates 14 Pocket FM inside Syria in the framework of its Syrnet project.