Out of Control Policy Blog

Iraqis can finally do some channel surfing

Private television broadcasters have been quietly springing up all over Iraq in the last year and now number around a dozen. Most are licensed - either by the former American-led coalition or Iraq's new interim government - but they remain loosely regulated. Many are also being founded and financed by the country's various ethnic or religious factions, raising concerns among government officials that they are being used to serve the political interests of their benefactors.

Now Mohammed Gohar hopes to add something more to the mix. His Baghdad-based channel is slated to start broadcasting later this month. And, although there will be plenty of news and talk about war, there will also be a soap opera, a reality show, variety shows, Arabic sitcoms, cartoons, commercials, and an Iraqi version of our "Today" show–where bookers are probably already angling to get "Survivor" castaways.

The free flow of information has certainly improved over the past year and a half:

Under the previous government, owning a satellite dish was illegal, and Iraqis caught with one were subject to six months in prison and a stiff fine. Today, roughly a third of Iraqi households own satellite dishes. There are more than 90 television and radio stations available in Iraq ...

Read the whole article here.

Ted Balaker is Producer


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