Television in Iraq
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Following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Iraqi state media collapsed. In June 2004, a Communications and Media Commission was set up to approve and grant licenses for all the country’s media. By 2011, Iraq was main headquarters to 49 free-to-air satellite channels, one of the highest number in the region.
Until 2003, satellite dishes were banned, and there were a limited number of national terrestrial stations in the country. After 2003, the sale of satellite dishes surged, and free-to-air channels entered the market.
There are 16 terrestrial channels, of which three are owned by the US-funded state broadcaster Iraqi Media Network. In March 2011, Al Jazeera was granted rights to re-establish operations in the country, after being banned in 2004. There are plans to set up a media free zone based in Baghdad, the Baghdad Media City, which is targeted for completion towards the end of 2014.
"Iraqi TV" was the primary TV station in Iraq while Saddam Hussein was in power. Until the 2003 invasion of Iraq, its main coverage was patriotic music, government news and propaganda. It ceased broadcasting during the 2003 invasion.
Another TV channel called Youth Channel (Qanaat Al-Shabaab) started broadcasting in 1994 and contained many subtitled movies and Western music before the 2003 invasion. Scenes of mature content were edited out of these movies (with the exception of the very first American movie on the night of the first broadcast. They re-broadcast the movie the following afternoon edited), to make them more suitable to the culture, community and age ranges of viewers.
Because Iraqi television was free to watch for anyone owning a proper satellite receiver in a proper region, it also received a substantial amount of attention from viewers in countries other than Iraq, especially during the 2003 invasion of the country.
Because Iraqi TV had kept on broadcasting videos showing Saddam Hussein alive or dead to divert Army attention from trying to locate him, cutting the station off air was a major priority.
Many TV stations have appeared since the fall of Saddam. Under the direction of Ambassador L. Paul Bremer III as the Administrator, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) began issuing radio and television licenses in June 2003 to meet the great demand for broadcasting licenses. The licenses were issued by the CPA Senior Adviser for Telecommunications. To plan for the expected great demand, this CPA office worked with Iraqi radio-frequency spectrum engineers and managers to develop a national FM-radio and TV channel allotment plan for all of the major Iraqi cities and towns. The national plan was developed using technical criteria and the Region 1 (Europe, Africa and the Middle East)allotment plan that was developed years before by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a United Nations treaty organization. The Iraqi allotment plan consisted of hundreds of FM radio and TV stations allotted to the cities and towns. The channels in the allotment plan were then open to anyone to apply for a license for a particular channel.
The CPA developed a few basic rules and regulations in June and July 2003 to provide a limited regulatory control of the broadcasters. For example, broadcasts inciting riots were prohibited. The overall CPA objective was to issue many licenses to provide for a plethora of diverse voices, information, music, and news to satisfy the desires and tastes of the Iraqi citizens. The CPA also recognized that broadcasting was a combination of business, advertising, journalism, engineering, and entertainment, and a robust and thriving broadcasting industry could provide a large number of excellent and highly desirable professional jobs that would reduce national unemployment. The CPA also recognized that commercial broadcasting could provide wealth-building opportunities to successful broadcasters.
The Iraqi Media Network (IMN), a public broadcasting network similar to the Public Broadcasting System in the United States, was issued radio and TV licenses by the CPA.
The CPA continued its work as the national broadcasting licensing and regulatory authority until June 2004 when the Iraq Communications and Media Commission (CMC) was established as the national regulatory agency that would issue licenses and regulate broadcasting and telecommunications.
The overall result is that there are hundreds of radio and television stations operating in Iraq.
List of channels
- Al Iraqiya, the government-financed television station
- Al Sharqiya, Iraq's first privately owned satellite TV station
- Al Sumaria, an independent Iraqi satellite TV network
- Nawa TV, an Iraqi TV station broadcasting in Arabic and Kurdish
- Al-Baghdadia TV, Arab nationalist channel which opposed the occupation, the insurgency and dictatorship. The owner's family were heavily abused during Saddam Hussain's reign
- Al Forat, the SIIC TV station
- Ashur TV
- Baghdad TV
- Al-Ifaq TV, channel of Nuri al-Maliki
- Al-Rasheed TV
- Ahlulbayt TV
- Al Masar
- Al Fayha
- Ishtar TV, an Assyrian & Chaldean TV station