At least 22 local radio stations in Baghdad and the provinces have been shut down on the grounds that they have not paid off their debts.
On the other hand, the commission allowed dozens of other broadcasting Agencies to continue operating despite their financial dues for seemingly political considerations.
The association was informed by radio colleagues, that the commission sent its teams accompanied by elements of national security to the radio stations and forced them to drop the signal and close the office until the debt settlement; the commission informed the radio administrations that the commission would reserve their frequencies for a specified period, and in case the financial matters are not settled, the commission will sell them to other radios.
Colleagues believe that the move is aimed at giving the radio stations of a number of political parties frequencies, after Iraqi space is filled with frequencies due to chaos and lack of organization, and trespassing mobile phone and internet companies on most areas of Iraqi space.
“The commission has not shut down any of the radio stations of the political parties, particularly the parties in power, which operate despite the fact that there are large debts, some of which are operating without the commission’s permission,” he said.
Press Freedom Advocacy Association in Iraq notes that the payment of financial fees from the radio stations is a legitimate and legal right, but considers the selectivity in dealing with such a serious issue aimed at undermining press freedom, and breaking down structures of the independent media, especially as it demonstrates political and financial-oriented measures that are distant from any professional standards.
The association calls on Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi to open an investigation into the commission’s actions and to identify violations of the law, and will consider him as a partner in undermining the role of the independent press once keeping silent.
The association will have another attitude facing the silence of the authorities concerning these breaches, and the prime minister’s failure to resolve the file of the Media and Communications Commission witch is accused of playing a biased political role since the outbreak of protests in Iraq and the closure of 19 media outlets in one day to silence the press reporting the protests.