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Television in Syria was formed in 1960, when Syria and Egypt were part of the United Arab Republic. It broadcasted in black and white until 1976. In 1985 a second channel was established and in 1995 the Syrian television rented a channel on Arabsat and it started broadcasting 8 hours daily via satellite in 1996. Syrian channels are mostly owned and controlled by the Syrian Arab Television and Radio Broadcasting Commission which connected to the Ministry of Information. It counts 4,800 staff; government employees and freelancers. Since the start of the Syrian civil war, the state has been engaging in a "media war" to combat the criticisms broadcast from other popular media outlets viewed in the Arab World and internationally, such as BBC and Al Jazeera. State television coverage champions the regime against opposition forces such as Free Syrian Army. It also tends to omit or downplay reports of civilian casualties in its coverage of confrontations with "terrorist" groups. The Arab League officially asked the satellite operators Arabsat and Nilesat to stop broadcasting Syrian media in June 2012. On April 27, 2013, Al Jazeera announced that it was suspending indefinitely its activities throughout Syria because of intimidation and threats against it staff. (via Freebase)