Libya’s rebels have launched a new satellite channel to provide an alternative message and news slant to that disseminated by Muammar Gaddafi, who controls all state broadcast media in the troubled north African nation.

Libya Alhurra, which translates as Free Libya, commenced broadcasting yesterday (30 May), to great fanfare in Benghazi, where thousands of Libyans gathered to watch on a large public screen, according to the Associated Press.

The channel which, like Gadhafi’s satellite stations, is now available to viewers via Nilesat, has evolved from an online video stream launched in February by Libyan businessmen Zuhair Albarasi and Mohammed al-Nabbous.

Tragically, Al-Nabbous was killed by sniper fire in Benghazi on 19 March as the 27 year old filmed armed rebels about to confront Gadhafi’s tanks ahead of the first NATO airstrikes.

While the Internet site, hosted by Live Stream, has continued to feed streams and provide a chatroom across the globe, internet difficult to access for much of the Libyan population at home. By stark comparison, satellite TV is received by an estimated 90% of Libyans.

Speaking in Benghazi at the launch of the new channel, co-founder Zuhair Albarasi told AP: "This is freedom. I hope this shows the true colour of Libyan people and their real faith in a new, free Libya.

He added that the relaunch of Libya Alhurra was in tribute to his dead friend. "We are all looking forward to providing the people of Libya with a professional and independent service," said Mr Albarasi.