ATV TodayIraq media watchdog has today stopped 10 television satellite television stations from broadcasting over claims they promoted ‘violence and sectarianism.’

Communications and Media Commission (CMC) have said that they have stopped the various channel’s work “so they cannot cover events in Iraq or move around” said one CMC official.

“We took a decision to suspend the licence of some satellite channels that adopted language encouraging violence and sectarianism.” – Mujahid Abu al-Hail, CMC official

One of those channels now blocked from Iraq, Al Jazeera, has hit out at the decision today. In a statement they said they were “astonished” at the development and are urging the authorities in Iraq to allow them to report freely what goes on inside the country.

“We are astonished by this development. We cover all sides of the stories in Iraq, and have done for many years. The fact that so many channels have been hit all at once though suggests this is an indiscriminate decision. We urge the authorities to uphold freedom for the media to report the important stories taking place in Iraq.” – Al Jazeera statement

Until 2003, media in Iraq was heavily controlled by the ruling party under Saddam Hussain and acted as propaganda tool for the dictator. Following the collapse of the regime in the same year after the Iraq war, there has been a significant increase in television and radio stations.

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