Kuwait - the Media

Kuwait - the Media

According to Kuwait's 1991 constitution, "freedom of opinion is guaranteed to everyone . . . within the limits of the law." The 1961 Press and Publishing Law establishes fines and prison terms for the publication of banned material, which includes reports critical of the government. In practice, this provision has been used only rarely, and Kuwait is known for its press freedom. In 1986, however, the government took a number of measures to repress political dissent. New censorship regulations formed a part of these measures. The Ministry of Information requires all publications to submit copy to the ministry in advance for approval and forbids criticism of the ruler and his family, other Arab leaders, or Islam, as well as the acceptance of foreign funding.

As a result of the Iraqi invasion, Iraqi forces took over all media. A few Kuwaiti newspapers and Radio Kuwait managed to operate outside the country. After the war, in April 1991 the six opposition groups joined in calling for a free press. In January 1992, the government lifted censorship, but journalists continued to experience various restrictions. As of 1993, the press, radio, and television were gradually recovering and rebuilding facilities the Iraqis had destroyed.

The Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) is theoretically independent but in practice is an arm of the Ministry of Information. Newspapers are generally privately owned and consist of seven dailies, five in Arabic and two in English (the Arab Times and Kuwait Times), as well as a number of weeklies. The largest daily is Al Qabas (Firebrand), which is independent and had a circulation of about 120,000 before the war. Two smaller dailies, Al Anba (News) and Ar Ray al Amm (Public Opinion), each with a prewar circulation of 80,000, are more conservative and support the government. With regard to other information media, the Ministry of Information operates the three stations of Radio Kuwait and the Kuwait Television station.

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