Global Broadcasters Remain on Air in Iraq Despite Regulatory Warning

Posted June 25th, 2012 at 7:45 pm (UTC-5)
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International news broadcasters including Voice of America say they remain on the air in Iraq, despite a warning by Iraqi regulators that their operations could be restricted because of a licensing dispute.

Iraq's Communications and Media Commission, which regulates media outlets in the country, says it recently sent a list of unlicensed organizations to the interior ministry, seeking help in enforcing licensing laws. Commission members said some of the unlicensed media outlets could be subjected to raids or closures.

An Iraqi press freedom group says the list contains 44 news organizations, most of them Iraqi, but also including foreign broadcasters like VOA, fellow U.S.-government funded station Radio Sawa and the BBC. The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory says the Iraqi regulator's decision to seek interior ministry action against the organizations is a setback for press freedom in Iraq.

In a statement issued Monday, VOA said it is investigating reports about the Iraqi regulator's move. The statement said “this appears to be a regulatory matter concerning frequencies and licensing that is being discussed between local and federal officials in Iraq.” It said there is “no indication that this regulatory issue is being directed at VOA reporters in the field.”

The statement also said VOA and Radio Sawa “will continue to work with Iraqi authorities to ensure full compliance with any new Iraqi regulations and licenses.”

The BBC said its journalists in Baghdad are not experiencing any issues reporting from the country. The British broadcaster said “it is important that the BBC and other international news organizations are able to operate freely, and bring independent and impartial news to audiences in Iraq and the wider region.”

No other media outlets in Iraq have reported any disruption to their operations.