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.
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