Iraqis will soon be able to watch foreign satellite TV on a subscription basis, more than a year after the government decided to allow satellite programs into Iraqi homes, the information ministry said Tuesday, May 1.
"Eight satellite channels will become available in the next few days," a ministry official told the weekly Al-Rafidain .
In October 1999, the Iraqi cabinet passed a bill to set up a television network aimed at receiving and redistributing satellite TV transmissions to Iraqi subscribers.
The service will cost between 10,000 and 12,000 dinars (six and seven dollars) a month, or double the average wage of a government employee in sanctions-hit Iraq, the ministry official said.
Another Iraqi weekly, Al-Zaman , criticized the information ministry in November for the delay in carrying out the government's decision.
"It is not in the interests of the country to keep depriving Iraqis of a window on the world," it charged. "If the decision ... had been against freedom of expression or information, the officials would have implemented it immediately."
Iraq was one of the first Arab countries to have television and now has two terrestrial channels: the official Iraq Television and Youth TV, headed by Uday Saddam Hussein, the president's eldest son.
In July 1998, Baghdad launched its own satellite channel, although satellite dishes and receivers are officially banned in Iraq itself. — (AFP, Baghdad)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )