A security force has closed the headquarters of the NRT TV channel in Slémani City around 2:30 AM this morning under orders from the Ministry of Youth and Culture of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
NRT has been broadcasting live coverage of protests and civil unrest across the Slémani province.
they took all broadcasting equipment and have stationed a force in front of the building
NRT now broadcasts a static image with a text that says “a security force belonging to the PUK” closed their office and that “they took all broadcasting equipment and have stationed a force in front of the building.”
At the moment the NRT building was closed by security, there was only one of the channel's staff present, whom they “harmed” and later released, according to NRT.
The KRG’s Ministry of Youth and Culture in a statement said: “Due to violations by the NRT channel of specific regulation for audio and visual media, especially irresponsible conduct at this time, which is unlawful void of logic. After being warned numerous times about their repetitive violations, we have decided to stop the normal broadcasting of NRT channel for one week.”
The Ministry bases the closure decree on Article 3, Section 3 of the ‘Frequency Regulation in the Kurdistan Region (regulation for TV and Radio work)’. That section stipulates that “Audio and visual media outlets must not cause damage to public norms and interests within the framework of the active laws in the Kurdistan Region, and must avoid impairing the social and family peace.”
The Ministry’s statement only mentions stopping the broadcasting of NRT 1 (which broadcasts news, political and informational programs), but the broadcast of all other NRT channels have been stopped. NRT 2 is an entertainment channel; NRT 3 is a children’s channel; NRT 4 is a religious channel.
In its statement, the Ministry orders NRT to broadcast a text in “big letters” the order of the closure during the week.
At 12 PM, the NRT staff and a number of other journalists gathered in front of the NRT building and gave a press conference, in which calls were made to treat media outlets in accordance with the ‘Journalism Law’.
KRG’s ‘Journalism Law’ was ratified in 2007 by the Kurdistan Regional Parliament. It does not have any sections about the closure of media outlets.
We think that the decision is a political one and imposed on the Ministry of Culture
“We think that the decision is a political one and imposed on the Ministry of Culture. Otherwise, why in addition to NRT 1, our other three channels were stopped. They don’t even allow our staff to enter the building,” Abdulrahman added.
NRT (short for Nalia Radio and Television) is part of Nalia Corporation, owned by Shaswar Abdulwahid, head of the New Generation Movement, an opposition political party.
The New Generation Movement said in a statement today that “these steps will neither muffle the voice of freedom seekers, nor will diminish the wave of anger and dissent of people. It will rather unite the voice of freedom seekers to face the injustice and tyranny inflicted on the people.”