Originally published: July 15, 2010
Last updated: July 15, 2010 - 8:17pm
The [Iraqi] government's Communications and Media Commission has been pushing to regulate television stations, and wants the right to shutter channels judged to be inciting violence. The definition of incitement is not clear - which makes Iraqi journalists nervous that this may be a move to curb free speech.
Censorship is nothing new to Falah Azzawi. He learned his trade on Shabab TV and radio channels under the autocratic regime of Saddam Hussein. The stations, opened by Hussein's son Uday, catered to young Iraqis with a steady diet of hip Western and Arab movies, music and more freewheeling criticism of authorities than had been tolerated before. Azzawi, now 48, joined as a radio announcer in the mid-1990s. Much of what he has accomplished in the years since he attributes to his own pluck and survival instinct.
When he started his current show in 2004, he broadcast live from Sadr City, the vast Shiite Baghdad slum where U.S. forces and Shiite militias often clashed. "You couldn't work anywhere for an hour. There were snipers, terrorists and fear," he says. "We faced many incidents, but praise God, the love of the people protected us."
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