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 periodicals.
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