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In early 1988, all radio and television broadcasting in Iraq
was controlled by the government. Radio Iraq had both domestic
and foreign services. The domestic service broadcasted in Arabic,
Kurdish, Syriac, and Turkoman; the foreign service, in English,
French, German, Russian, Swahili, Turkish, and Urdu. Two radio
stations based in Baghdad broadcasted all day, and they could be
picked up by the overwhelming majority of the estimated 2.5
million radio receivers in the country. There were also separate
radio stations with programs in Kurdish and Persian.
Baghdad Television was the main government television
station. It broadcasted over two channels throughout the day.
Government-owned commercial television stations also broadcasted
from Basra, Kirkuk, Mosul, and nineteen other locations for an
average of six hours a day. A Kurdish-language television station
aired programs for eight hours each day. There were an estimated
750,000 privately owned television sets in the country in 1986,
the latest year for which such statistics were available.
In 1988 there were six national daily newspapers, all of
which were published in Baghdad. One of these papers, the
Baghdad Observer, was published in English; it had an
estimated circulation of 220,000. Another daily, Al-Iraq,
with a circulation of abut 30,000, was published in Kurdish. The
largest of the four Arabic-language dailies was Al
Jumhuriya, which had a circulation of approximately 220,000.
Ath Thawra, with a circulation of about 22,000, was the
official organ of the Baath Party. There were also seven weekly
papers, all published in Baghdad. The government's Iraqi News
Agency (INA) distributed news to the foreign press based in, or
passing through, Iraq.
Although Article 26 of the Provisional Constitution
guarantees freedom of opinion and publication "within the limits
of the law," newspapers, books, and other publications were
subject to censorship. The Ministry of Guidance monitored
published material to ensure that all writing was "in line with
the nationalist and progressive line of the revolution." The
Ministry of Culture and Information's National House for
Publishing and Distributing Advertising had the sole authority to
import and to distribute all foreign newspapers, magazines, and
Data as of May 1988