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Iraq Suspends Decision To Halt 44 Media Outlets

Iraqis watch a state television broadcast in Baghdad in 2010.
Iraqi authorities have suspended their earlier decision to close 44 media operations in the country, including the BBC and Voice of America, amid condemnations by media rights groups.

The Communication and Media commission that regulates the news media in Iraq said it will give the targeted organizations more time to pay outstanding fees and renew expired licenses.

The commission denied its previous order to close the agencies was meant to crackdown on the independent press.

Iraq regularly ranks near the bottom of global press freedom rankings.

The country was placed 152nd out of 179 countries in media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders' 2011-12 World Press Freedom index, down 22 from the year before.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP