Television in Iraq Essay

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Television in Iraq

The birth of the television was originally introduced here, in the United States. The
impact of this new technology was not only evident here in the US, but in other countries
as well. In Iraq, television caused immediate changes, which in turn caused adjustments in
everyday living. The benefits and negative impacts varied, but overall as in most other
countries, television shapes the images and views of everything that is broadcasted.
Television currently has taken the place of past leisure activities. Being informed of the
news, sports, and global issues consisted of hearing it only through radio and prior to
that just word of mouth. "People gathered around the TV set as they had gathered around
the radio, much like their ancestors had gathered around campfire storytellers"(Schwab,
2004, p.3).

With an objective to capture light in a series of lines and beams, the television was
introduced as a product of moving images. With the help of several investors, Philip T.
Farnsworth invented the television in the 1920's. With help from others including Vladimar
Zworkyn, John Baird, and Charles Jenkins, the television underwent many trials and tests
before its final completion. In a collaborative effort the previously mentioned men worked
to establish a way to broadcast pictures through the colors of black and white to its
present color TV. Television images are portrayed simultaneously around the network."
Accurate timing of devices and split-second movements of cameras are the essentials of
television operation" (Television Volume III, 1938, p.1).

Currently the media plays a highly influential role that is evident amongst the citizens
of Iraq. Some speak of the US in particular as having distorted views, focusing too much
on tragedy. Currently the US media displays all of the negative activity due to the war
and deducts the success of Iraq. "The introduction of the television shows
progress…….new car sales have skyrocketed in Iraq, along with newspapers, peaceful
demonstrations and other signs of a political system that has replaced totalitarianism"(T.
Roeder, The Gazette). According to the article, Iraqis critical media, television leaves
out other positive progressions of the country, such as renovated schools and hospitals,
in addition to repaired water and sewer systems.

Perceptions about the war seem to be the highlight of the distorted view publicized on
television currently. According the Asia Times, Fox news is criticized for its
chauvinistic coverage in news. A survey was conducted and the results showed that 80% of
viewers grasp at least one misperception, while CBS, CNN, and NBC followed

The publishing and evidence of Iraq's own media distribution is quite developed. More
conservative and conformist in nature, the citizens of Iraq find there cultural way of
living to be more understood. Once referred to as the Mesopotamia, meaning land between
rivers, Iraq is aware of the issues at hand when it comes to television. There are both
positive and negative aspects of the impacts regarding television. Television today
provides updated domestic and international news, as well as an additional outlet for
advertising. Edward M. Schwab suggests, "Once a person or a family tuned to a specific
channel, they were likely to stay tuned to it for a while" (Schwab, 2004, p. 4). This
allowed for advertisers to rely on promoting their brands and specific products. Whether
good advertising or distorted views of the war, television is both a technological
advancement and threat. "There are countless issues that need to be addressed when
producing enhanced content, generating the transport stream, and designing receivers"
(Television Volume III, 1938, p.4).

Iraq consists of lands considered to be the ancient Near East. Historians theorize this is
the location of the earliest civilizations. According to the Old Testament and older Near
Eastern texts, what once was Mesopotamia is now the country of Iraq (Morse, 1973, p.404).
Ancient Mesopotamia in Western mythology and religious belief was a land abundant in
plants, animals and water. Settling of this area occurred around 6000 B.C. by Turkish and
Iranian nomads (

Life in ancient Mesopotamia was impacted by two main elements: the Tigris and Euphrates
rivers and the river valley itself. The fertile river valley made it possible for the
first time in our history, to have an excess amount of food. However, the crops needed
protection from the rivers and the development of flood control became essential. With the
capability to grow more food and the progression of flood control, the genesis of Iraq was

Iraq established itself as a "Republic" on July 14, 1958, with the end of the rule of King
Fasisal II (Morse, 1973, p.408). Between this time and the rise of Saddam Hussein in June
of 1979 (al-Kahalil, 1989,, the history of Iraq is riddled with violent uprisings
and coup attempts. Saddam Hussein created a period of stability never before seen in Iraq.
He used capital from oil sales to decrease unemployment, start large building projects and
to greatly improve health care and the educational system. These results bonded a large
number of Iraqis to the Baath Party. Another first for Iraq after the rise of Saddam
Hussein was the creation of a national identity. The success of Saddam Hussein and the
thriving Iraqi society would however, be short-lived. The start of the Iraqi decline began
with the invasion of Iran on September 22, 1980 (Davis, 2003, p.281-282). The war forever
changed the history of Iraq and disrupted the Iraqi political, social and economic

On August 2, 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait (Davis, 2003, p.175). After the Gulf War ended, the
UN Security Council made it mandatory that Iraq get rid of all weapons of mass destruction
and make way for UN weapons inspections. Continued nonconformance to the UN Security
Council regulations came to a head with the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003,
resulting in the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party

The major issue facing Iraq today is building a nation-state with a national identity out
of a war torn diverse society. Coalition forces are still in Iraq fighting the insurgents.
There is much to be done with assisting the Iraqi Interim Government and getting the basic
facilities and services back on line for the Iraqi people.

Like many middle- eastern countries Iraq's economy was controlled by the sale of oil. Oil
sales comprised 95% of its foreign exchange earnings
( Radical changes occurred in the economy
with the invasion of Kuwait, sanctions, and damage done by the war. The war along with an
economy controlled by the superior authority of the government had retarded economic
expansion, incapacitated basic services and necessary installations to support the
population of Iraq. Not until 1996 did the living conditions start to improve with the
establishment of the UN oil-for-food program
( The idea behind this program was to allow
very restricted amounts of oil to be traded for medicines, food, and parts to repair basic
services such as water and electricity.

With lower oil prices and a slower global economy the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) plunged
in 2001-2002 ( Today, in order for serious
GDP growth to occur, it is necessary to establish sufficient security, sustain dependable
operation of basic infrastructure, expand oil production, and secure private investments.
Today, income per capita is steadily declining. A substantial increase in the GDP occurred
in 2004, however it is noted that the GDP started from an incredibly low number
( As the future for Iraq unfolds, oil will
still be a dominant force in the Iraqi economy, and areas such as agriculture will
contribute only a small fraction. Expansion of oil production has stunted agricultural
growth along with the depleted supply of water caused by dam building on the Tigris and
Euphrates rivers. Many challenges lie ahead for the Iraqi Interim Government. Establishing
an economic policy is imperative, paying back enormous amounts of debt and dealing with
the current unemployment rate are just a few examples.

To assist in reconstruction efforts, The World Bank has committed hundreds of millions of
dollars in economic aid to war torn Iraq. UNICEF has calculated a need for another $183
million dollars to aid in humanitarian efforts (
According to the CIA Fact book, (, for the
years 2004- 2007 foreign pledges need to account for another $33 billion to aid in Iraq's

Population Information
Information on the population of Iraq, if available, is not that reliable. "The government
estimates that 76 percent of the people are Arab; 19 percent are Kurds; while Turkomans,
Assyrians, Armenians, and other relatively small groups make up the rest"
( The Islamic portion of the
population is divided into two main sects, Sunni and Shia, with the Shias as the majority.
The Kurds represent the largest non-Arab ethnic minority. The Turkomans, who are village
dwellers living between the Kurdish and Arab regions, make up less than two percent of the
population ( The Assyrians are the
third largest ethnic minority in Iraq. The Central Intelligence Agency Fact Book
( reports the population breaks down by age
and sex is as follows:

• 0-14 years: 40% (male 5,293,709/female 5,130,826)
• 15-64 years: 57% (male 7,530,619/female 7,338,109)
• 65 years and over: 3% (male 367,832/female 413,811)
Infant mortality today (107 deaths per 1,000 live births) is more than double what it was
at the end of the 1980s ( Leading causes of death
include malnutrition, diarrhea and respiratory infections. The lack of sanitation, clean
water, and health care are other factors related to the well-being of the children.
Children numbering nearly 25 million make up almost half of the population in Iraq, and of
that, half of them are under eighteen ( In the last
twenty years children living in Iraq have been exposed to war three times; the war with
Iran that lasted eight years, the Gulf War in 1991 (Davis, 2003, p.176), and the war that
is currently taking place. Despite the very difficult circumstances, UNICEF continues its
daily efforts to deliver emergency medical supplies, water, and food to the assist the
children of Iraq.

The official language of Iraq is Arabic, spoken by approximately 76 percent of population
( Minorities speak Turkic and
Armenian. The official language of a country is typically what is used in the legislative
body and is one that is given special status in the country. However, even the official
language is not exempt from controversy. Serious violent protests and even terrorist
activity have occurred over whether the official language should remain Arabic or be
changed to Kurdish, the language spoken by the largest non-Arab ethnic minority.

Iraq has three major religions; Islam, Sunnis, and Shia Muslims. Islam was introduced to
Iraq in A.D 637 with the Muslim victory over the Sassaians in the battle of Al Qadisiya
( Islam, the most prevalent, is the
official religion of Iraq. Muslims believe that God (Allah) made known to the Prophet
Muhammad rules concerning the governing society and the proper conduct of society's
members. It is therefore the duty of all Muslims to live in a manner directed by the law
and for the community to build the perfect earthly human society according to holy law.
"Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world today outpacing Christianity,
Buddhism, and all other belief systems through a mixture of conversion and natural
increase. However, even more eye opening is the fact that Islam is also the
fastest-growing religion in North America" (Emerick, 2002 p.3).

Both Sunnis and the Shia Muslims are sects of the Islam religion. Sunnis believe that they
can approach God directly; the idea of clerical hierarchy does not exist. Imams, male
prayer leaders in the mosque, need not have any formal training. Their position is based
more on intellect. According to the Sunnis sect, any righteous Muslim man can be elected
caliph, a religious leader regarded as Muhammad's successor. Sunnis do not require that
caliphs be direct descendants Muhammad. The decision of who should be the first caliph, is
what triggered the split in Islam.

Shia Muslims share the fundamental beliefs of other Muslims, along with the distinctive
institution of Shia Islam. They believe only a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad has the
right to rule. The Shi'as have developed doctrines of their own. These are based on the
fact that if anyone followed a caliph other than Ali, was a sinner. Ali is the founder of
the Shia Muslim sect also the cousin and son-in-law to Muhammad. "During the time of the
split, some believed Ali should be the first caliph, but he was passed over. Ali
eventually became the fourth caliph, but was assassinated in 661" (Di Giovanni, 2004 p. 2
-35). Shi'as praise Ali in their prayers and have holidays celebrating special dates in
his life.

Technology in Iraq was considered good in the late 1980's. In 1988 there were 632,000
telephones and 972,000 television sets
( Television stations were
located in major cities and broadcasting consisted of two networks. All television and
radio stations were government owned. However, as with every other sector in Iraq, the
invasion of Iran was the start of its decline. Today the current war continues to have an
extreme effect on telecommunications. Repairs are being made to the networks but sabotage
is a big problem.

Iraq is a Middle Eastern country comparable in size to Wyoming and South Dakota combined,
or twice the size of Idaho. It is bordered by the Persian Gulf, between Iran and Kuwait.
Geographers break down the geography of Iraq into zones. These zones include the desert in
the west and southwest; the rolling upland between the upper Tigris and Euphrates rivers;
the highlands in the north and the northeast, and the alluvial plain through which the
Tigris and Euphrates flow. The climate consists mostly of desert; northern mountainous
regions have cold winters with a few heavy snows that melt in the spring. Terrain consists
of broad plains and reedy marshes along Iranian border in south with large flooded areas.
Mountains run along the borders with Iran and Turkey.

Natural Resources of Iraq include petroleum, natural gas, phosphates and sulfur.
Environmental issues plaguing the country are air quality, water quality, and soil
pollution as well as the effects of government water projects that have drained marsh
areas, making them inhabitable (

Current Events
Today's Iraqi government is a developing government that faces the many challenges of
change and transition. The Iraqi Interim Government (IG) was appointed on 1 June 2004, and
the Cabinet now consists of 15 Shiite Arab ministers, seven Kurds, four Sunnis and one
Christian ( Work has begun in helping the
Iraqi Interim Government with rebuilding the infrastructure and getting services back on
line for the Iraqi people. The government needs to establish an economic policy in order
to start paying back the enormous amounts of debt owed and find answers to issues like
unemployment, refugees, education, and health care. Commenting on Iraq's future, a Western
diplomat stated, "This is going to be hard, nothing in Iraq has been easy—not one damn
thing" (Iiana, Saleh, 2005).


Human beings have always tried to communicate with neighbors beyond the horizon. They
would use tom-toms, smoke signals and sometimes semaphore. The desire has been a matter of
commerce, curiosity, or most importantly, warfare. Written messages were sent by ships,
horses, birds, and shank's mare. But these were slow, cumbersome, and subject to the whims
of weather, terrain, or the endurance of animals. The first steps towards instant
communications were really taken by seventeenth- and eighteenth-century scientists such as
Luigi Galvani, Allesandro Volta, Hans C. Oersted, Andre Ampere, George S. Ohm, Michael
Faraday, and James Clerk Maxwell, who found that electrical currents could flow through
certain materials as well as interact with magnetic forces (Smith, 1995, p. 13). Mary
Bellis (2005) points out that television was not invented by a single inventor, instead
many people working together and alone, contributed to the evolution of TV. However, it
was Philo Farnsworth gave the first public demonstration of all-electric television by a
demonstration unit at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.

In 1922 a 14-year-old farm boy first sketched his idea for television for his science
teacher. The boy, Philo T. Farnsworth, knew very little about electronic theory. Because
he was intrigued with the electron and electricity, he persuaded his chemistry teacher, to
give him special instruction and to allow him to audit a senior course (Postman, 1999).
His teacher and he spent several weeks working on the idea until it seemed that Philo's
idea would work. Even though his family suffered hardships, Philo was determined to go to
college. When he was not studying at Brigham Young University, his spent his time learning
about vacuum tubes and cathode ray tubes. However, without money he had no hope of
building a working model of his television idea.

He and one of his friends took correspondence courses in radio technology. He shared his
idea with his friend and his boss. Both seemed very interested in Philo's idea. Philo knew
that companies such as G.E. and Bell Labs were still working with mirrors and disks. So,
he had time to pursue his idea. His boss gave him the money to test his idea. Eventually,
more money was invested in Philo's idea, and on January 7, 1927 Philo applied for his
first patent. He was the first to successfully demonstrate the principle, in his lab in
San Francisco on September 7, 1927 (Schatzkin, 2001). This is considered the official date
of the invention of television.

Television is the electronic delivery of moving images and sound from a source to a
receiver. Television programs are sent to your home through electrical signals that travel
on electromagnetic waves. The television mixes three colors in different ways to show all
the colors that you see on the screen. Almost all Televisions in use today rely on a
device known as the cathode ray tube, or CRT, to display their images (Brian, 2005).
Besides electromagnetic waves over the ground, TV programs can be sent to your TV through
other ways such as satellite and cable broadcasting.

Home life has never been the same since the advent of television, particularly since
television began to be considered as the household medium in a very large part of the
world. Since television entered the home--and each home has had its own family and
television chronology--much else has changed besides the mere size of the television
audience. The family itself as a unit has been under pressure for reasons of which
television has been only one. Changes in family structure and the rise in the number of
single parent families have transformed the scene. 'Family values' have themselves been in
question (Smith, 1995, p. 191).

Television drama and entertainment programming are at the heart of every broadcasting
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