Iraq Orders Closure of 44 Media Outlets

An Iraqi regulatory group has reportedly ordered the closure of 44 media outlets in the country, including the BBC and Voice of America, in a dispute over broadcast licenses. No action has yet been taken, MSNBC reported. Other media organizations facing shutdown include privately-owned local TV stations Sharqiya and Baghdadia, as well as U.S.-backed Radio Sawa. A senior source at the Communications and the Media Commission (CMC), the body behind the order, said the order was not related to the way the outlets had reported on sectarian conflict in the country, contrary to some initial reports. "This is totally wrong and unwise as it comes at a time when the country is plunged into political uncertainty," said Ziyad al-Aajely, head of the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory. "What we are confident of is that the decision was not political, but its negative implications will definitely have political implications on the government and harm the reputation of Iraq as a free country."

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