Iraq backs off on forcing 44 media outlets closed
BAGHDAD - The Associated Press
In this June 14, 2010 file photo, Iraq's parliament convenes in Baghdad. AP Photo
raqi authorities have suspended plans to close 44 media operations in the country including the BBC and Voice of America. The reversal comes after an outcry by press freedom advocates.
Ali Nasir, the deputy director of the Communications and Media Commission that regulates the news media, says the agency will give the news organizations an unspecified amount of time to obtain licenses and pay outstanding fees.
The commission denied its previous order to close the agencies, most of them Iraqi, represents a crackdown on a free press.
Nasir said Tuesday that five organizations including the BBC and U.S.-funded Radio Sawa are working with the CMC to settle licensing problems.
Iraqi press watchdog Journalistic Freedoms Observatory welcomed the reprieve but said licensing is still too difficult and fees are too high.