Iraq gives media outlets 45 days to comply with rules
June 27, 2012 Print Send to Friend
BAGHDAD: Iraq has suspended plans to close 44 media operations in the country, including the BBC and Voice of America, after an outcry by press freedom advocates, an official said on Tuesday.
Iraq’s interior ministry has given dozens of media outlets 45 days to comply with Communications and Media Commission (CMC) regulations over licences, or they will face “legal procedures.”
“The ministry calls on the officials of these institutions to (work with) the Communications and Media Commission during a period of 45 days from the date of issuing this statement,” the interior ministry said in a statement.
“The ministry is eager for these institutions to continue their work legally and in full freedom,” it said, adding that after the 45 days, “legal procedures will be applied, according to what the commission orders.” The commission denied that its previous order to close the agencies, most of them Iraqi, represented a crackdown on a free press. No media outlets were known to be actually shut down.
Still, the Iraqi press watchdog Journalistic Freedoms Observatory decried the order as “a setback to the freedom of journalism in Iraq.”
The group accused the government of Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki of trying to silence critics.
JFO said the CMC had in fact recommended banning 44 news outlets, and called for the move, which it said violated the constitution, to be reversed.
Salem Mashkur, a member of the board of trustees of the CMC, the independent authority charged with regulating media organisations in Iraq, said on Monday that it had decided to restrict 39 media outlets including the BBC and Voice of America over problems with licences.
“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,” Mashkur said, adding that the aim was to “help them and the organisation of the work, only.”