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Media restrictions in Iraq

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Jon Williams Jon Williams | 12:03 UK time, Thursday, 4 February 2010

Next month it will be seven years since British and American forces invaded Iraq. Under Saddam, the international media was subject to censorship, with minders assigned to news organisations to "monitor" their reporting. More than 250 journalists have died covering Iraq's transition to democracy since the invasion in 2003. Now, seven years after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi authorities are threatening to reimpose serious restrictions on the media.

The Iraqi Communications and Media Commission was set up by the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority in 2004. Its purpose was to regulate the media in Iraq - in itself, a perfectly legitimate aspiration. But the international media, including the BBC, are concerned that new plans outlined by the Iraqi authorities owe more to a desire to control and censor the news media rather than to enshrine Iraq's constitutional right to free speech and a free press.

The Iraqi authorities want the BBC and other news organisations to disclose full lists of staff, an act we believe might endanger those who work for us. The Iraqi authorities are demanding journalists reveal their sources in response to complaints, in violation of the journalist's age-old responsibility to protect those who come to us with stories. And they want to prevent the international media from reporting stories that might incite violence or sectarianism, but have failed to clarify what constitutes "incitement" or "sectarianism".

Iraq remains a difficult place in which to operate. The political environment is tense, with a general election in Iraq just a month away, where even reporting death-tolls is viewed as controversial, and could lay the international media open to censorship.

In a conference centre in London, the Iraq war inquiry is poring over the detail of the Britain's decision to go to war. Those who prosecuted the case for war talked of freeing Iraq from intimidation. Today, there is a risk of a return to the days of Saddam-style "regulation" and censorship.

Journalists have a responsibility to be accurate and fair - we don't want, and don't ask, for special treatment. However, we do want the ability to operate freely, without fear or favour. Our audiences deserve nothing less.

Jon Williams is the BBC World News editor.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    "the Iraq war inquiry is poring over the detail of the Britain's decision to go to war. Those who prosecuted the case for war talked of freeing Iraq from intimidation. Today, there is a risk of a return to the days of Saddam-style "regulation" and censorship."

    Your job is to report, not take an editorial stance as you are here. BTW - the enquiry is really not attracting much attention among the general public, and please don't try to kid yourself otherwise.

    "Journalists have a responsibility to be accurate and fair - "

    Indeed - and the BBC fails massively to be either. Look at the way you take a stance, and choose the 'facts' so selectively in making your case that it borders on the dishonest.

    Look at what's happened to you over Iraq, immigration and most notoriously, Climate Change/Global Warming.

  • Comment number 2.

    "Journalists have a responsibility to be accurate and fair - we don't want, and don't ask, for special treatment. However, we do want the ability to operate freely, without fear or favour. Our audiences deserve nothing less."

    Since when has the BBC operated without fear or favour over Iraq, within the UK, let alone outside it?

  • Comment number 3.

    Comments against the BBC miss the point - it's about the return of media censorship in Iraq. It had to happen sooner or later. The idea of American-styled democracy there always was a pipe-dream. If the Americans thought they'd plant a puppet democracy and leave, we're now seeing a little slice of what'll actually happen.

    Better that journalists occasionally get their reportage wrong than being denied the chance to report openly.

  • Comment number 4.

    #3

    It is very much to the point if one considers the fate of a certain good Doctor, and of the decimation that followed at the BBC.

    The media has to be tough enough to stand up to official inquiries that do not do their job, read between the lines, be ahead of the game, and embarrass those in public life who need to be embarrassed.

    Unfortunately "reality" media attacks the vulnerable, the innocent and the stupid; it seldom turns in on itself.

  • Comment number 5.

    Angel & apple.

    Another announcement by the BBC, this time underlining that the regime in Iraq is going down a more authoritarian route and again you use the oppurtunity for more bile against the beeb.

    Its like your'e in some kind of weird abusive relationship, where you feel angry, betrayed and hurt by the BBC yet you just can't stay away...

  • Comment number 6.

    I also distance myself from the anti-BBC comments here - there are issues about coverage from Iraq/Afghanistan but that is not the subject of this blog. I also note that the BBC has shown itself capable of responding to comments on their coverage.

    I hope you are able to successfully resist and manage the Iraq media laws. News coverage which has been censored is near useless. People on this blog have questioned the BBC filtering of news, which can distort the overall picture, but having the Iraqi government controlling the filter would be even worse.

  • Comment number 7.

    #5

    Oh dear goldcaesar, am I supposed to praise the BBC. Please forgive me....

  • Comment number 8.

    #7

    not nessasarily praise, no.

    but neither do you need to endlessly repeat the same point in every post you make over and over again regardless of topic.

  • Comment number 9.

    Closer to home, the IRA and the "oxygen of publicity" issue comes to mind.

    Iraq's baby democracy is set against centuries of 'strong' autocracies. Were we overcome by such a regime, would we conform so readily or so immediately? Or would we take to the hills?

    BBC reporters insisting on all the i's being dotted and the t's being crossed before opening their laptops should simply follow their instincts and report away until they are kicked out; the reporter's ultimate accolade

    Being killed in action is a terrible consequence of following Tommy Atkins into the battle field - as every reporter and viewer knows only too well.

  • Comment number 10.

    Don't you just love the way that these narcissistic journalists praise themselves and their work as if it's the most important thing on Earth?! Sorry, not work, their 'responsibility'. It is their 'responsibility' to involve themselves in Iraq. Says who, exactly? And why is your audience so 'deserving'? And what exactly is it that you propose to do? Stand in front of a camera looking ruffled, getting in the way, and putting out broadcasts that tell disinterested people in a far away country, who lead completely different lives, something that they didn't really need to know, and could happily live without. And anyone that is affected by your broadcasts will be shown an exaggerated version of what is going on that fails to put it into a wider context (the media always does this), and focusses disproportionately on the bad. Still, you've got your story. Then, of course, the media washes its manicured hands of any blood that their reporting may have caused, count their money, and point the cameras even more. Just what you don't need in a country struggling to rebalance itself after the invasion. And now the Iraqi government aren't lying down and allowing you to stick your cameras anywhere you please. They are not worshipping the all-powerful Media! How remiss of them. Maybe they want to get on with actually doing something - like, for example, rebuilding their shattered country and political system? The arrogance of the media is just breath-taking! You whine about not being able to do your 'job', as if it is just so much more important than all the doctors, soldiers, engineers etc., who are struggling to do theirs.

  • Comment number 11.

    Critisism of the regime in Iraq because of it's attitude to foreign journalists is misplaced. The idea that the BBC is somehow the champion of the world's freedom doesn't quite have the ring of authenticity about it, considering it's record in calling to question the activities of our own government and it's members. Perhaps if the journalists were convinced that their job description was the reporting of news, rather than inventing or manufacturing it, their status abroad might indeed be enhanced.

  • Comment number 12.

    #8

    Oh now, gold caesar, fair is fair, if anyone repeats themselves endlessly (and never has anything imaginative to say) it is you. So please do not ask me to copy your style - there's a good little boy.

  • Comment number 13.

    12#

    Ah, i see you went for the personal insult option. classy.

    'little boy' hey, thats me emotionally crushed.

  • Comment number 14.

    #13

    Not classy, gold caesar. I just copied you to keep you interested. You are too easy, oh crushed one.

  • Comment number 15.

    14

    15. I surrender.

    Please stop hurting me, i accept i'm no match for rapier wit and scalpel like intellect.

    Please carry on with your insightful, well obeserved, excellently researched posts which never ever repeat themselves or give the impression that the entire world is conspiring agaist you.

    Its only a matter of time before you either bring down the government,the BBC and any other random organisations which are causing yyou to live in a state of constant rage.

  • Comment number 16.

    Gold Caesar

    "Another announcement by the BBC, this time underlining that the regime in Iraq is going down a more authoritarian route and again you use the oppurtunity for more bile against the beeb.

    Its like your'e in some kind of weird abusive relationship, where you feel angry, betrayed and hurt by the BBC yet you just can't stay away..."

    Why on earth shouldn't we criticise the BBC, and why should we stay away?

    The BBC takes a lot of our money, and is supposed to provide the responsible accurate journalism the OP boasts of. But it fails to do so. Why shouldn't that be pointed out?

    Also, with its funding, the BBC is a huge media organisation, the one most of us get our broadcast news from. That means we're constantly exposed to its views - and the problem is, because it takes an editorial line on certain issues, if you disagree with that editorial line, you're going to end up asking questions, pointing out problems.

    Of course, the BBC could restrict itself to doing what it's supposed to - reporting, instead of preaching.

    Why do some people feel the need to be so obsequious to the BBC?

  • Comment number 17.

    Lippy 10

    "The arrogance of the media is just breath-taking! You whine about not being able to do your 'job', as if it is just so much more important than all the doctors, soldiers, engineers etc., who are struggling to do theirs. "

    You took the words right off my keyboard.

  • Comment number 18.

    #15

    Surrender? You do not WORK for the BBC do you (now that would be a novelty)?

    I have to agree with Apple (which is another novelty) that as license fee payers we do have a right to express valid opinions. And, back on topic, I'd like to have some real journalism within these blogs, not crocodile tears over how difficult a job can be. What can be easier than writing a few words on a blog. I get my four year old daughter to do it for me and I sometimes feel that the young lady knows more about Iraq than the BBC do.

  • Comment number 19.

    Jon,

    If the regulations as envisaged did go ahead, what would the likely response of the BBC be?

    Defy the regulations, by providing a list that contains only a sub-set of your employees? Provide the full list, or do the "full Zimbabwe" and report from outside the country with occasional undercover incursions?

    And LippyLipo & Apple-Eater, if you come to a BBC blog set up to specifically discuss the business of journalism, you shouldn't be surprised if the posts that talk about issues regarding BBC journalism, rather than (say) the heroism of medical staff on the battlefield.

  • Comment number 20.

    "The Iraqi Communications and Media Commission was set up by the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority in 2004. Its purpose was to regulate the media in Iraq - in itself, a perfectly legitimate aspiration."

    Legitimate? Really? It was Al Jazeera's footage of dead civilians that pretty much put a stop to the first US Assault on Fallujah. Unlike the BBC and other media, Al Jazeera were not quite so happy to play the "embedded game". A few months later in August, Al Jazeera was shut down in Iraq with US and Iraqi troops closing their head office.

    If only they would have agreed to do all their reporting from inside a coalition tank and make the implicit assumption of western benevolence, they would probably have never been banned. US hostility towards Al Jazeera is no secret and it's inconceivable that the US did not have a hand in getting them banned from Iraq.

    "Journalists have a responsibility to be accurate and fair"

    If the BBC were "fair" it would have been as damning about the US Assault on Fallujah as it was with the Russian Assault on Grozny.

    The difference between BBC reporting in the two cases is quite astounding. Take a look for yourself.

    Grozny's ruined lives
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/668080.stm

    Fixing the problem of Falluja
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/3989639.stm

    The following quote is from the Grozny article.

    "Why should they go? By what right was the Russian army forcing them from their homes? So Russia could destroy what it itself dismissed as a handful of terrorists?"

    Can you imagine the BBC ever saying the same thing about Fallujah?

    "Why should they go? By what right was the US army forcing them from their homes? So the US could destroy what it itself dismissed as a handful of terrorists?"

    It's an example I have used many times in the past, but it's very far from the only example of the enormous Gulf in the reporting on Allies and official enemies.



  • Comment number 21.

    Freedom of the press is subject to increasing pressure in many developing nations. It's not as clear cut as saying it is or even should be a constitutional right in all countries. There has to be some balance between safety and security and freedom to report - particularly in war-torn nations like Iraq.

    Recently in South Africa a similar issue arose when a TV channel (e-tv) showed footage of an interview with a self-confessed thug who basically said he was looking forward to the South African 2010 world cup purely because of the windfall of criminal activity he would be able to engage in with foreigners over the duration of the tournament. See the cartoon and article on the topic at:

    Crime in South Africa and Freedom of the Press. The debate there was whether the identity of the criminal should be revealed to the police or protected under free speech. It's wonderful to sit in an ivory tower or first world nation and make grand statements about free speech but what happens when you visit SA to watch a few soccer matches and that same thug threatens your life?

    Anna Sempe - African blogger

  • Comment number 22.

    You should raise your concerns with your line manager. The BBC, if it feels it is appropriate should raise its concerns with a member of parliament. Using the BBC to vent your opinions is inappropriate.

  • Comment number 23.

    What did the BBC expect? The US isn't interested in a 'democratic' government in Iraq or Afghanistan, they couldn't care less what happens to the population as long as the Iraqi government remains loyal to them. Restrictions in the movements and reporting of journalists is probably desirable for the US also.
    Democracy in Iraq? Don't make me laugh.

  • Comment number 24.

    "Journalists have a responsibility to be accurate and fair"

    Here is a classic piece of BBC impartiality from yesterday.

    Bombs and beatings: Life among the Taliban
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8499578.stm

    In the interests of fairness and balance, I await the BBC article titled "Air-strikes and Assassinations:Living Under Occupation in Afghanistan"



  • Comment number 25.

    I take some exception to your statement that journalists want to be accurate and fair.It is the fact that journalists have neglected their duty to be impartial that a lot of s**t,passing as truth has brainwashed half the population in the western world.It is your duty indeed to report facts, truth and both sides of a debate.Maybe just maybe, journalists will start to soon to defer their biases and report what they are paid for and not what they are told to say. Lies and spin and stories are all very well,but the truth always triumphs, for the story stays the same. Being old I have at times seen and been involved in items that became news. Journalists {per se } appear to have no knowledge on anything,including common sense.I implore you and your colleagues to seek expert opinion on both sides of anything you are reporting on.Perhaps then the thinking public may have more time for you and start reading papers again. This time in history journalists in the main stream media and especially those in government owned media are thought of as some what below,used car salesmen,shyster lawyers and child molesters. Please step up to the plate your job in life is truth not spin,ask the questions that seek real answers,if you get spin ask why,if why gets spin,conclude that they are hiding something,ask what they are hiding,if you get more spin report that they refuse to tell the truth.If all journalists did this in their reports politicians would either stop spinning,tell the truth or be quickly out of a job. The whole world would be a better place if you did your job. Warning warning warning,the internet is rapidly becoming the only place that can be relied on for on the spot real both sides news. Journalists in Irag face not only the danger of death but more spin than my washing machine. Surely report on the government but the most important task is to talk and report about your average Joe Blogs and give the real story of the real Iraqi people.If what I have said seems unfair It is I am afraid the thought that most thinking people have about the quality of the main stream media.

  • Comment number 26.

    We have just sat through a line of questioning of Alistair Campbell vis a vis the decision to go to war against Saddam Hussain which is completely idiotic [Andrew Marr show]. Every time this line of questioning alleging that the WMD speculation was the pivotal issue, the nature of the regime is being completely ignored. This pursuit of sticking mud onto Tony Blair's judgment sidelines the Fact that Gassing and genocide was large-scale under that regime and thousands of people were wiped off the face of the earth. This is not potential threat, this is Factual crimes against humanity! It is of no interest whatsoever to us, if the crimes of Chemical Ali and his hench-men are there for all to see, that certain media spokes-people want to obsess ad nauseum on whether the war was LEGAL?? THE WAR WAS A DUTY FOR HUMANITY TO EXPOSE A REGIME AND PUT AN END TO VIA REGIME CHANGE!

  • Comment number 27.

    Saddam's brutality towards his own people, however outrageous it was, doesn't constitute a legal case for regime change. If it did a great many other regimes and countries would have been invaded. George Orwell, who worked for the BBC, openly referred to it as a 'propagandist' organisation - it hasn't changed, merely become more refined in achieving this end.

    As for Blair and Campbell, they, along with Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et.al. should be on trial for war crimes, not appearing and 'blubbing' on TV chat shows. No less a figure than Kofi Annan appeared on our TVs at the start of the Iraq problems and stated 'the war in Iraq is illegal' - he was at the time UN secretary General.

  • Comment number 28.

    So Churchill's crusade against Fascism, and Hitler in particular was not legal! OK?

  • Comment number 29.

    Hitler, illegally invaded Poland, this is a wholly different situation to the invasion of Iraq. We did not invade Germany to prevent Hitler from beating, imprisoning and otherwise subjugating, Jews, Roma, or the mentally and physically impaired. We declared war on Germany because Hitler invaded Poland. You really need to read your history a little more closely before you make such ridculous comments. Churchill did not lead a campaign against Facsism. He, Churchill, was part of a force which, during the Boer War, used 'concentration camps' imprisoning and starving Boer women and children - thus we and not Hitler were the first to perpetrate 'concentration camps', Hitler simply industrialised them.

  • Comment number 30.

    #29

    Sadly, what you say is true.

    History will not provide anyone with comforting parallels to the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. If the US and UK had declared "war" on Iraq and Afghanistan then we may have seen a very different offensive in both cases (who else would have joined in and on whose side?); Blair and Bush didn't do so, preferring to force the hand of a notoriously weak UN.

    But the crucial point of where we are now is that of whether either country is better off, or the world a better place. These are moot points depending on whose news you care to believe. I wonder what kind of news the Soviet people got all those years ago?

  • Comment number 31.

    "this is a wholly different situation to the invasion of Iraq."

    Yes, we have learned from the mistakes of that time and try not to allow them to happen again.

    You should read history and realise that appeasement does not work

  • Comment number 32.

    When McBushwhacker has assiduously re-read his expertly studied 'history', he will no doubt take note that Hitler systematically dismantled exigent machinery for settling disputes peacefully, the League of Nations,which was what the 'loose cannon' Saddam was up to in defying UN resolutions. By agreeing to invasion of Iraq, far from undermining the rule of International law, US and Britain were upholding it in the face of extreme provocation from a wily dictator. You seek to wilfully mis-represent both action and intent in declaring Blair and Bush criminals, when clearly they did not provoke the position of defiance and threat which Saddam took up.

    Concentration camps is not what was being discussed, but yes, taken to its logical conclusion, Imperial Britain has much to answer for. Which takes us to Churchill, with his festering views on Fascism and the threat posed by dictators. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Without the international crisis that Hitler's measures induced, and the failure of appeasement, Churchill would have remained in the wilderness. At least Blair and Bush did not Appease!

  • Comment number 33.

    Chris 19

    "if you come to a BBC blog set up to specifically discuss the business of journalism, you shouldn't be surprised if the posts that talk about issues regarding BBC journalism, rather than (say) the heroism of medical staff on the battlefield."

    Wrong. He's stating his views on policy regarding coverage of the war(s). People are taking issue with the BBC coverage, and why not?

    The BBC's coverage is highly questionable and partisan, always from the same anti-Brit point of view, with every failing of 'ours', real or imagined, magnified.

    The BBC sees and markets itself as a valiant crusader for truth, which it really isn't. When it decides on an editorial stance, it picks and ignores facts to suit that stance, and allows no 'inconvenient truths' to get in the way.

    It's entirely legitimate to take issue with BBC staff in this context. Or do you regard dissent as verboten?

  • Comment number 34.

    #32

    Ah, Saddam's "guilt" over his manipulation of UN Resolutions was so "clear cut" that the UK has had how many "bites of the cherry" to "prove it"? Even Blair, at Chilcott, was reduced to the mantra "I believed at the time it was the right thing to do".

    And Saddam posed a threat to whom? "Who" was he plotting with to overturn "what" and how many minutes would it take?

  • Comment number 35.

    Here is the definition of 'incitement' from

    http://www.lexiology.com/definition/incitement

    "an act of urging on or spurring on or rousing to action or instigating"

    Is there anything ambiguous about this definition? So why do we need a detailed treatise on 'incitement'? Let's follow the laws of the land like any other citizen of the state.

  • Comment number 36.

    "But the international media, including the BBC, are concerned that new plans outlined by the Iraqi authorities owe more to a desire to control and censor the news media rather than to enshrine Iraq's constitutional right to free speech and a free press".

    Presumably the occupation of Iraq is also centred on a 'desire to control' (although this time its parameters extend to the fate of an entire state). If correct, all BBC 'concern' with impending ‘control’ and ‘censorship’ of the Iraqi media is nothing but a worthless side-show.

  • Comment number 37.

    Many contributors routinely attack the BBC as a way of expressing their wider displeasure at Britain's military involvement in foreign conflicts. But the BBC maintains its own editorial integrity, with correspondents like Ian Pannell risking their lives to tell audiences back home the dangers faced by British forces in Afghanistan.

    On Iraq, the BBC came under fierce political pressure because it dared to stand up to the government. Far from being "propagandist", it wanted to reflect the concerns of millions of people that Britain fought an illegal war.

    That is why, if the BBC is being prevented by new media restrictions from doing its job in Iraq - the original point raised in this debate - it is right to raise the alarm. All of us, whether we opposed the war or supported it, need to know what is going on there.

  • Comment number 38.

    chrisa 37

    ""But the BBC maintains its own editorial integrity, with correspondents like Ian Pannell risking their lives to tell audiences back home the dangers faced by British forces in Afghanistan."

    No, it doesn't. The BBC gives its own version of events in Afghanistan, with everything possible being done to give the image of the Brits as just walking around getting blown up by wily/defiant/resilient/resourceful (i.e. basically bloody good chaps) taleban.

    Whatever else Pannell does - and today's the first time I've heard his reporting - it doesn't seem to involve being with the Brits when they are actually doing something.

    According to the BBC's reporting, the Brits never kill a taleban, and only we and the US are involved. We never get to hear of the likes of the Dutch and the Danes or Canadians.

    "On Iraq, the BBC came under fierce political pressure because it dared to stand up to the government. Far from being "propagandist", it wanted to reflect the concerns of millions of people that Britain fought an illegal war."

    Precisely - it wanted to reflect those concerns, not tell the truth. That's why the BBC surrendered any right to consider itself or be considered as a news organisation. It decided it was against the war, and so reported on it in the most negative way possible. That's one reason why it failed to notice that not many people shared its obsession, and voted Blair back in anyway, when the war, according to the BBC, was going to be THE big issue.

  • Comment number 39.

    Hypocon 26
    Factual crimes against humanity! It is of no interest whatsoever to us, if the crimes of Chemical Ali and his henchmen are there for all to see,
    This then makes the war legal because you have seen it in the news. We all saw/heard of the foul things that Liverpool supporters were said to have done at Hillsborough.
    In Iraq the reporters did not include who or from where the gas came. Media would not countenance or want to report that Sadam might have been given a trial sample. I remember reading about the gassing in the Telegraph at the time.

  • Comment number 40.

    Wayne Job 25
    Has it right, media persons should get both sides and to the bottom of events and as near to the truth as pssible
    As for appeasement??? Have we not appeased the US for years from the Phillippines in 1898 then Panama, Cuba, Nicaragua. Kosova Venezuela, etc

  • Comment number 41.

    Hello
    It's very interresting to read of your concern about the Iraqi governement trying to censor reports from their country. Before you go too far down that road I suggest that you sweep in front of your own door. For several months I posted comments on the WHYS blog and those comments that criticised the sionist quatters in Palestine or USA foreign policy were systematically censored. I assure you it had nothing to do with moderation because I read the rules forwards and backwards. I twice challenged Mark to explain to me how these comments contravened the rules and his reply was evasive and did not in any way answer the question asked. Although I haven't investigated the subject further I have a feeling that this kind of censoreship is a part of BBC policy.
    I am not only a member of the silent majority but also of the silenced majority.
    Jim

  • Comment number 42.

    If regulations and censorship can keep terrorism at bay , we should go for that . Of course media need freedom to work and report .Are the media not fed up with reporting deadly bomb attacks killing scores daily ?Should we wait for that saturation point? When we see Iraq now , I fell Saddam was better

    Prathap M.R

  • Comment number 43.

    41 Jill Newman

    "For several months I posted comments on the WHYS blog and those comments that criticised the sionist quatters in Palestine or USA foreign policy were systematically censored."

    Think you've got it bad? Try getting your views heard on the BBC if you think immigration is bad and there might be problems with the Global Warming theory.

  • Comment number 44.

    @ 37 'chrisatkent'

    (1) "But the BBC maintains its own editorial integrity”

    Yes. The BBC has 'editorial integrity' to quite literally 'die for'. Its refusal to broadcast a charity appeal on behalf of Gazans is the perfect example of this 'integrity'.


    (2) “... the dangers faced by British forces in Afghanistan".

    This is pure unfettered state-worship. Not a single mention, not even a scintilla, to suggest that Afghan civilians may too be facing 'dangers'. In short, the implicit suggestion here is that the only danger (and as such the only lives) that matter are those of 'British forces'. It does not take a paragon of moral virtue to detect that this is nothing but the rustling of trashy pom-poms.

  • Comment number 45.

    censorship has always been a part of journalism.
    sometimes it's execued by the government, sometimes by media companies.
    neither should occur.

  • Comment number 46.

    Re. 43Apple Eater and & 41 Jill Newman

    Add to your list of prohibitions anything about Chavez, Venezuela, The US militarization of the region.
    Columbia, Ecuador, Paraguay, the recent coup in Honduras

  • Comment number 47.

    Iraqi thinks the news was not reportedly accurate and fair, then they imposed a certain regulation.(so the journalist will surrender!)
    If this happen how can we know the latest scenario in Iraq?
    stop panic attacks,lets the government solve it.


    Ross
    (woodworking plan)

  • Comment number 48.

    Mr. Williams:

    I honestly disagree with the media restrictions that are being "thought" off in Iraq...Since, the BBC has many "staffers" lives would be threatened if there names would be divulge...

    I also, think that the Iraqi government needs to rethink this idea.

    (Dennis Junior)

  • Comment number 49.

    "Where black gold be found, black lies do flow."

  • Comment number 50.

    "No, it doesn't. The BBC gives its own version of events in Afghanistan, with everything possible being done to give the image of the Brits as just walking around getting blown up by wily/defiant/resilient/resourceful (i.e. basically bloody good chaps) taleban." Apple-Eater

    "If the BBC were "fair" it would have been as damning about the US Assault on Fallujah as it was with the Russian Assault on Grozny." Steve

    If the BBC can manage to upset both Apple-Eater and Steve it must be doing something right. It goes to show how selective many of us can be in our interpretation of the news.

  • Comment number 51.

    #50
    "If the BBC can manage to upset both Apple-Eater and Steve it must be doing something right. It goes to show how selective many of us can be in our interpretation of the news."

    Actually no. The BBC has speculated on the recent offensive in Afghanistan and the warning given by the Coalition ahead of it. The BBC suggested that the warning may have been given "to warn civilians to clear out of the area". I am not sure how that "warning" conforms with the Geneva Convention. Remember this is not a legitimate war.

  • Comment number 52.

    50 Yellow

    "If the BBC can manage to upset both Apple-Eater and Steve it must be doing something right. It goes to show how selective many of us can be in our interpretation of the news. "

    Wrong. The BBC is basically Coalition, but has to maintain some semblance of balance, because

    a - the army is popular
    b - the BBC needs to look honest.

    So it persists in highlighting facts disadvantageous to the Coalition, suppressing any news potentially harmful to the Taleban, and presenting the Brits as on their own and on the run.

    So no, the fact that it also manages to upset some anti's doesn't mean it's 'doing something right'.

    The fact is, the BBC was highly critical of the US assault on Fallujah, for a start.

  • Comment number 53.

    Nick Robinson won't be happy.
    The message boards have always been moderated.
    Politicians regularly make gaffes. Like when Tony Blair said in the enquiry that if he were still in power he would be putting Iran in check.
    Hasn't he learned by the mistakes over Iraq?

  • Comment number 54.

    Some of the people here have missed the point.The freedom of the press is not the issue its the manipulation of the press. So Iraq wants to present itself in a particular way. So what? It is after all the artifice of a Government that now needs to justify itself to the Allies and present itself as an independant middle eastern country- We all know the truth. Just as our politicians have squirm to prevent all the nasty truths coming out at home. The BBC will faithfully report what our Government says-it doesn't mean we will believe it or the Government. Am I worried by the clamp down in Iraq? not in the least, in fact it is to be expected, but good honest stories will always get out, they always have.

  • Comment number 55.

    You talk as though we have no media restrictions in the UK? Today i saw a BBC news item regarding the assasination of a hamas diplomat, probably by israelie agents.

    He was refeered to as 'a leader from the MILITANT group hamas'.

    Would you of referred to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as:-

    'the leader of the militant group Alliance of Builders of Islamic Iran'

    Of course you wouldn't you would refer to him as the leader of a democratic country.

    So why not with hamas? They had a turnout at their election far higher than has ever been seen in history in western countries.

    He was a member of a democratic government not a 'militant group'.

    So you still think we are so different to Iraq?

  • Comment number 56.

    The author of this article refers to Iraqi goverment as they are direct descendant from sadam goverment which is not true.
    We all know that they are controlled by coalition countries and that it is in their interest to control information and black out any free journalism there is in Iraq.
    Jane out.

  • Comment number 57.

    #46. At 8:52pm on 13 Feb 2010, SirReausThought wrote:

    "Add to your list of prohibitions anything about Chavez, Venezuela, The US militarization of the region.
    Columbia, Ecuador, Paraguay, the recent coup in Honduras"

    You make some interesting reading. You must see the connection between all those countries?

    Economic terrorism. This is how it works:-

    1. The CIA approach a leader of a country and offer him loans on behalf of large corperations. These loans are so big his country can never repay it but he goes along with it because both himself personally and his family will be rich for the rest of their lives.

    2. Over time when it is clear to everyone the country is going bankrupt the CIA tell the leader it has to sell off his coutnrys utilities ie: oil/gas feilds and virtually every state owned sector.

    3. The people of this country effectively end up as slaves living on land they do not own in an environment where they could live subsistance lifestyles of higher quality than the lives they are forced to live working for corperations that now own all of their land and utilities.

    Occasionally every so often a strong nationalistic leader comes in to power vowing to put right what once went wrong ie: chavez nationalising his oil sector. Standard CIA reaction goes as follows:-

    1. They go back to the leader and offer larger bribes assuring him of dire consequences if he doesn't play ball.

    2. If the leader still refuses the CIA orchestrate a coup attempting to topple him.

    3. If this fails they attempt to assinate him and fill the media with stories of how corupt and undemoctratic his country is. If an election is called the CIA will back puppet opposition groups, if it is clear they will lose the CIA get them to withdraw and claim the election was rigged. A good example of this is when the prime minister of ecuador was killed by a bomb on a plane obviously planted by the CIA.

    4. If coups, slander and murder attempts fail they fund militant groups within the country in an attempt to force regime change from within.

    5. If this doesn't work they MAY declare war, but this is highly dependant on how important the country is to US interests ie: after trying to kill Chavez twice and mounting coups they have not as yet thought venezuala lucrative enough to warant the expense of a war so they bide there time and use the media to paint him in a bad light during the mean time.

  • Comment number 58.

    Re 57. At 2:40pm on 17 Feb 2010, bigsammyb
    This is something we both know about and is/will affect any nation with assets, Not necessarily oil it could be a canal. (Haiti has offshore oil, watch the space.)Remember Nicaraguar, Panama, The Orange revolution, Kosovo which has probably the biggest US base in Europe:as well as those we have already mentioned. But has Goldceasar, Apple Eater and Angel in Transit Heard about them or are they too busy slagging each other off to notice?

  • Comment number 59.

    #57 & #58

    No problem here. I just agree with everything that the two of you have written. US tactics in countries of interest are very easy to analyse; it is just an outrage that our media, especially the BBC, do not seek to explain this in detail.

    You can also add the manipulation of the UK and Canada to the list. The UK is still exporting oil and gas to the USA, although we do not have enough to meet our own needs.

    I don't think we even got past stage 1.....

  • Comment number 60.

    It is an outrage and it is the fault of the media. I can understand the Rupert Murdoch owned propoganda machines being party to this but i fail to understand why an institution like the BBC feels unable to show people the world for how it really is.

    Broadcasters in the UK are compelled to strict impartiality guidlines but of course they do not stipulate the stories broadcasters cover in the first place.

    So the BBC report the 'news' with no context and no explanation. Take the 'war on terror' not once have i read on the BBC the background of this issue which is of course americas backing for the very people it now calls 'terrorists' during the Afghan soviet war.

    Moreover i have never heard the BBC explain when reporting a story that the word 'terrorist' has no international legal definition so by its very nature is an ambiguous word that should not be used.

    So why is this? I don't believe BBC reporters are that lazy.

  • Comment number 61.

    Saddam falls - hundreds of independent Iraqi newspapers, radio stations, & television channels emerge. The Iraqi Communications & Media Commission is created & Constitutionalized. In other words, the right to free speech is part of Iraq’s Constitution.
    There are even call-in radio programs, giving Iraqis the opportunity to express their views e.g. Radio Dijla. I think it’s Radio Dijla that is mandatory listening for Government officials so that they do not loose touch with public opinion at the grassroots.
    Problems:
    1. Many of these new media outlets are tied to sectarian groups. Having had no voice before, it’s little wonder that they tend to be a little extreme. It's little wonder that the Commission need reign them in now and then, or even shut them down.
    2. Like it or not, accept it or not – Iraq has been exposed to dirty journalism from the west, propaganda journalism, the sort of journalism where sources quoted may not exist, or being in existence did not actually say what they are quoted as saying. What's the problem in revealing sources (not in print, not in a newspaper), but to the Commission so that it can assess validity? You may be an honest journalist, but let's face it western propaganda is replete with so-called anonymous "sources" who cannot be named for various reasons.
    3. Several people, pretending to be journalists, or in possession of out-dated press credentials have been arrested and/or booted. God knows how many slipped through the net. Under these conditions, I think it's reasonable for all journalists (and their staff) to register with the Commission before commencing journalistic work in Iraq; in fact, this registration may actually help in the case of kidnap or other misadventure.

  • Comment number 62.

    Sadly, we have to realise that in the current economic circumstances we just cannot afford for civil servants (including local authority employees) to continue to receive "final salary" pensions. Available cash should be diverted to "front line services" and final salary pensions should be ditched without delay.

    We just have to accept that we can no longer afford the same level of local and central government services that we have previously taken for granted.

    Allan Smith

  • Comment number 63.

    If Iraq is serious about their transformation from a totalitarian regime to a democratic society their government should not try to censor the news media.
    In order for any democracy to function properly, people should be able to rely on an open and free media system. However we could debate about how 'open' and 'fair' the news is...

    Any news organization operating in such a climate should know that journalists have to consider the possible consequences of their reports before actually sending them out to the world.

 

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