The independent Nalia Radio and Television (NRT) in Erbil, a city in northern Iraq, have had their signals blocked for one week by the Kurdish authorities there.
This action is coming ahead of a regional referendum on Kurdish independence, set to take place on September 25.
NRT was accused of violating distribution regulations and licensing procedures by airing material from a channel that was not legally registered.
Last Monday, security officials affiliated with the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party denied NRT journalists entry into their studios. This prevented the network from airing a program about the “No for Now” campaign, which calls for a delay to the Kurdish independence vote.
NRT has frequently drawn the ire of authorities of the two main political factions – the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, vying for influence in northern Iraq.
NRT’s founder, Kurdish businessman Shaswar Abdulwahid, is at the forefront of the “No for Now” movement, which has also launched a television channel with different staff and offices from the NRT.
Deputy newsroom manager for the NRT, Soran Rashid, said the Kurdish authorities did not have a valid cause to cut off NRT’s broadcast, as the channel’s license was up to date.He also denied that NRT had re- broadcast material from an unlicensed television channel as the Kurdish authorities claimed.
The Kurdistan Regional Government’s press officer in Washington D.C. said that Kurdish officials had previously stopped television channels affiliated with political factions from broadcasting.
In this case, the press officer said, the NRT media organization had failed to keep up with its licensing fees.