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Major TV networks pull out of Iraq

BAGHDAD, Dec. 29 (UPI) -- The United States' three top broadcast television networks have quietly stopped sending full-time correspondents to Iraq, industry watchers say.

Neither ABC, CBS nor NBC have full-time reporters in Iraq, the first time in many years that none of the major networks were present in an ongoing conflict zone involving U.S. troops, The New York Times reported Monday.

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Representatives of the three networks declined to speak on the record to the Times about their news coverage decisions, but said anonymously they would continue to cover Iraq and that the staffing levels reflected an evolution of the Iraq storyline from one of covering violence to one about reconstruction and politics.

"The war has gone on longer than a lot of news organizations' ability or appetite to cover it," said Jane Arraf, a former Baghdad bureau chief for CNN who has remained in Iraq as a contract reporter for The Christian Science Monitor.

News industry sources told the newspaper the television networks are preparing to redeploy their reporting resources from Iraq to Afghanistan and Pakistan in the belief that U.S. President-elect Barack Obama will follow through on pledges to focus military efforts there.

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