Iraq curbs 39 media outlets including the
BBC and Voice of America
June 25, 2012
BAGHDAD, — Iraq's Communications and
Media Commission has decided to place restrictions
on 39 media outlets including the BBC and Voice of
America over alleged licence problems, a CMC
official said on Monday, AFP reported.
But the Journalism Freedoms Observatory (JFO), an
Iraqi media rights organisation, said that the CMC
had in fact recommended banning 44 news outlets, and
called for the move, which it said violated the
constitution, to be reversed.
"The commission published an announcement in all
newspapers in February calling for them to take
licences in two months to resolve their situations,"
said Salem Mashkur, a member of the board of
trustees of the CMC, the independent authority
charged with regulating media organisations in Iraq.
"But only a small number applied, and 39 media
outlets preferred not to come and not to apply the
law," he said.
Mashkur alleged that Voice of America had never
obtained a licence, while the BBC had done so for
its Arabic but not its English service.
"The interior ministry requested a list of names of
unlicensed channels from us and began to limit their
travel only, and did not carry out raids or closures
or confiscation of equipment, as is our right," he
adding that the aim was to "help them and the
organisation of the work, only."
The JFO, however, said it had obtained a copy of a
document issued by the CMC that "recommends banning
44 Iraqi and foreign media agencies from working in
various areas in Iraq."
"Included are prominent local TV channels and radio
stations such as Sharqiya and Baghdadia satellite
television stations and foreign-owned media such as
BBC, Radio Sawa and Voice of America," the JFO said
in an emailed statement.
"The JFO calls on CMC to withdraw regulations which
violate the Iraq constitution, which guarantees the
freedom of the press, and to follow existing media
legislation," it said.
The group "also calls on the PM Nuri al-Maliki to
rein in the behaviour of the CMC, since he appointed
its acting chief."
Iraq regularly ranks near the bottom of global press
freedom rankings. It placed 152nd out of 179
countries in media rights watchdog Reporters Without
Borders' 2011-2012 World Press Freedom Index, down
22 from the year before.
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