The Iraqi government has announced that it is suspending the licenses of 10 TV stations nationwide, effectively forcing them from the air, on charges that they are “encouraging violence and sectarianism.”
The move comes after a week of bloody sectarian fighting between government forces and Sunni protesters in the nation’s northwest. The largest broadcaster among the banned is al-Jazeera, which has covered the violence extensively.
But while al-Jazeera is certainly “the name” among the stations, the bigger impact is likely the smaller stations effected, as the ban is forcing several local news channels in Sunni Arab cities off the air, notably in Fallujah and Salahuddin.
The statement from the media commission accused the stations of “misleading” reports on the fighting, and accused them of backing “banned terrorist organizations.” It also warned that if the stations didn’t shut down they would face action from security forces.