Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Iraq: new media commissioner appointed

The US has appointed a new media commissioner in Iraq. The commissioner will oversee broadcasters and the print press.
In June, L. Paul Bremer, the civil administrator in Iraq, issued guidelines for all media outlets here, forbidding them from inciting violence, promoting "ethnic and religious hatred" or circulating false information "calculated to promote opposition" to the occupation authority.

Occasionally, U.S. soldiers have raided newspaper offices deemed to be in breach of the regulations, and they have closed at least two newspapers and one radio station. But the delicacy of sending heavily armed troops to enforce media rules has prompted the occupation officials to look for other ways to exercise their power to censor.

The new media commissioner will be Simon Haselock, a spokesman and media supervisor for U.N. authorities overseeing Kosovo. In June, he drafted a proposal to regulate journalists' activities through a panel that officials here have dubbed a "complaints commission." The commission, which would include journalists, would levy fines. Alleged transgressors could appeal. The system is similar to one functioning in Kosovo.