Thursday, May 2, 2013

Muzzling Media Muddles Mission

The revocation of broadcasting licenses of 10 TV Channels by the Iraqi government is an indication that the Shiite-led government feels it is losing ground against the rival Sunni faction. It may also be a sign that attempting to control media can no longer be done locally (see

A good part of my time in Bosnia as a part of the NATO Combined Joint Information Campaign Task Force (CJICTF) was spent dealing with media. This ranged from learning about the importance of pirated Venezuelan TV soap operas to inciting riots against NATO forces by local radio stations.

For the most part Iraq is an urban AO and as such is more influenced by media than Afghanistan. While the broadcasts may be transmitted locally, they originate outside the country so that the revocation merely affects local reporting. The revocation of course does not impact an Internet based media or messages delivered via smart phones.

The revocation can also stand for the proposition that sectarian strife is only minimally impacted by influence operations and that people are pre-disposed to believe negative reporting about long standing grudges.

The challenge for influence operations professionals becomes to ‘move the needle’ so that the population is more able to receive ‘true’ views of what is going on so that they can make informed decisions notwithstanding the ethnicity of the people in it. Perhaps everyone should listen to the song “Everyone is a little bit racist” from the musical Avenue Q. Check out the video at: Song starts about a minute into the video.

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