Rebels in Libya launch satellite TV station


7 Apr 2011
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BENGHAZI // Libya's rebels have launched their first homegrown satellite TV station in an attempt to counter the regime's powerful media machine.

Libya Alhurra, or "Free Libya," began broadcasting Monday night, a major step in the rebels' attempt to get its message to the Libyan public, whose main source of information on the crisis roiling their country has been Col Qaddafi's TV and radio.

Thousands of Libyans waving flags gathered in a public square in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi to watch the first broadcast, celebrating a new-found freedom from 40 years of media oppression.

Station co-founder Zuhair Albarasi told Associated Press from the square, which has become a rallying point for the revolt against Colonel Qaddafi: "This is freedom. I hope this shows the true colour of Libyan people and their real faith in a new, free Libya."

The channel was born out of an internet video streaming site launched by Mr Albarasi and fellow Libyan businessman Mohammed al Nabbous. They started toting video cameras to anti-regime protests, jerry-rigged a home satellite system and turned to the Web. The danger of their effort was quickly made clear: Mr al Nabbous, 27, was killed by a sniper in Benghazi on March 19.

Their site continued streaming video and audio reports direct from the battle front, including audio of fighters and the sounds of whizzing bullets and whooshes of rocket launchers. It also hosts a chat room that draws Libyans inside and outside the country as well as sympathetic foreigners.

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