Audience measurement organisations
Audience-measurement organisations require a political and economic context that allows for them to function and operate within a diverse and competitive media domain, where outlets compete over audiences and advertisers. In Syria, where the state used to control both the advertising market and the media, only occasionally and in partnership with authority-affiliated private organisations, audience-measurement systems had no presence until after 2011. However, due to the current state of conflict and the subsequent extreme difficulty of data collection, reliable, detailed and up-to-date researches on media audiences are absent. While online media organisations may be able to get some data through digital measurements, the composition of a reliable dataset requires interviews, ideally conducted inside the various (often contested and difficult-to-access) territories into which the country is now broken.
One of the earliest examples of a Syrian audience study was conducted in 2005 by InterMedia in Syria’s big cities (including their suburban areas). The study showed that the Internet usage in pre-revolutionary Syria was limited and television - in particular government-owned and pan-Arab channels (like Al-Jazeera) - was the dominant source of information. The 2014 Audience Research report published by MICT5 is the subsequent substantial body of data and the first study conducted under “war conditions.” It surveyed a sample of Syrians in both government-controlled and contested areas and also refugees in camps abroad. Once again, television was identified as the dominant source of information. Social media also appeared as an important channel, reflecting a surge in Internet use in the intervening years. Evidence from contacts inside the country suggests that these trends remain still valid today.