New online book takes a close look at Iraqi media

What do Iraqis watch on TV? Why should Iraq's draft Law on Media and Telecommunications be passed? What role do Iraqi bloggers play? Media in Iraq and legislation that affects them are the main topics in a new online publication.
Iraqis play action video games in an arcade in Baghdad. © Ghaith Abdul-Ahad
Iraqis play action video games in an arcade in Baghdad. © Ghaith Abdul-Ahad

Media on the Move is a collection of interviews, articles and analysis, which looks at the Iraqi media scene of today, draft laws as well as other legislative issues. The book, which is available in Arabic and English online, contains contributions by Iraqi and international media experts. It is an initiative by the Germany-based Friedrich-Ebert Stiftung in collaboration with Media in Cooperation & Transition.

Among the articles one can find for example:

What do Iraqis watch on TV? The Story of the 600 Diary Keepers

For a period of three months in 2005, six hundred Baghdadi families were asked to keep a diary about the programs they watched on television. Sometime later, in Baghdad and several other southern cities, 1500 surveys were taken, revealing the most watched programs. The results were surprising. "Iraqi Star", a daily pop-star and idol-oriented program on the channel Al-Sumeria, was the most popular program during the first month of diary-keeping. Less than half of the people involved watched news programs. Even during Ramadan, viewers remained disinterested in religious programs and channels.

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Internal Conflicts and External Pressures Hinder Progress at the IMN
Interview with Ali Al-Awsi, Member of the Board of Governors at the Iraqi Media Network

Many questions have been raised about the performance by the Iraqi Media Network, established as the public service broadcaster during the days of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in accordance with Order Number 66. The legal framework organizing work at the IMN and specifying its jurisdictions is still vague. Moreover, there are many overlapping areas of responsibility, shared by the General Director of the network and the Board of Governors, the latter of which is supposed to perform a monitoring role over work and output at the network. In addition, the nature of the relationship between the IMN and the Iraqi parliament has not yet been specified.

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Iraq Online
by Salam Pax, an Iraqi blogger and documentary filmmaker

A quick look at the virtual space Iraqi media occupies on the Internet will reveal a remarkably accurate representation of the country's various news outlets. The many television channels which started broadcasting after the fall of the Baathist regime and the tens of newspapers which have sprung up over the last number of years have quickly claimed their own space on the World Wide Web, as have many other "new media" websites - various forums, blogs and online news providers. What makes this speedy development in Iraqi online presence extraordinary is the fact that Internet usage and penetration in Iraq is actually quite low. The most upbeat reports put usage at 1.77 percent. That amounts to less than half-a-million users in a country of about twenty-seven million citizens.

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Iraq's Draft Media and Telecommunications Law: Why and How it Should be Passed
by Douglas Griffin, Douglas Griffin is a Director of Albany Associates, a consultancy in the United Kingdom with experience in international media development and strategic communications

A draft Law on Media and Telecommunications has been before the Iraqi parliament for some time and may come up for a vote in coming months. This draft law can be considered a relatively encouraging first communications law, especially in a recently liberalized environment like Iraq, where a large amount of legislative work is required in a short time, and conditions are anything but stable. The draft law conforms to modern international best practice in many ways, even if it leaves room for improvement.

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To access the home page of Media on the Move, click here

This article was first published by the Arab Press Network, a web portal by the World Association of Newspapers (WAN).