For over 30 years, media was severely limited under Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime. Only one news network, Iraqi News Agency, functioned as the government TV channel, five daily newspapers and four radio stations, providing censored information of Saddam’s regime. Any other media was barred from television. Satellite dishes were illegal, and the breaking of any of these rules meant imprisonment, torture or death. Many journalists defected as a result and went into hiding.
After the Iraq War in April of 2003, the laws were revoked and journalists were allowed to report news as they saw it for the first time. Americans made it their agenda to establish a free press, and the Iraqi citizens came alongside them with eagerness. They could now participate in the free marketplace of ideas.
With zero private news outlets to start, there were over 200 within just a few months. CNN, Al-Jazeera and dozens of other publications sprouted up. Western partners were traininig journalists each day, the enthusiasm was so strong.
Iraq now has over 500 TV channels, media outlets and newspapers.