NIQASH met with Maysoon al-Damluji, head of Iraq’s Parliamentary Committee on Media and Culture, to discuss biased journalists, stolen antiquities and what problems can be expected after the extremists have left town.
A lack of opportunity for independent financing means that a lot of Iraqi media, diverse as it is, has never been what one might consider balanced or unbiased. It’s well known that there are political or religious affiliations in play in the local press.
Now thanks to the current security crisis, which has deepened already existing ethnic and sectarian divisions in the country, the tone of reports has become even more sectarian in nature over the past few months – everything from political imbalance to sectarianism and racism to out-and-out misinformation and propaganda.
An independent public broadcaster in Iraq would doubtless do a lot to remedy this – however at the moment, the country’s public broadcasting network, the Iraqi Media Network, or IMN, which controls influential outlets like Al Iraqiya TV and Al Sabah newspaper, is not considered particularly independent.
Government-funded and monitored through the government-administered Communication and Media Commission, or CMC, the Iraqi Media Network has mostly been considered a mouthpiece for whomever was in power.
However ambitious new legislation is planned that would see the CMC and what has optimistically been described as “Iraq’s version of the BBC” become more independent and, hopefully, representative of all Iraqis, no matter what sect or ethnicity.