Afghanistan profile

Reader of an Afghan paper The number of newspapers has multiplied since the Taliban were ousted

Media outlets - private TV stations in particular - have mushroomed in the post-Taliban years.

Radio, the main source of entertainment and news, is losing audiences to TV.

By early 2014 there were 68 private TV stations, operating alongside national state TV and 22 state-owned provincial channels. There are 174 radio stations, 47 of them in Kabul.

The government has signed a deal with Paris-based Eutelsat to deploy a satellite for Afghanistan's use. This will help Afghan broadcasters to reach all corners of the country.

Hundreds of press titles publish under a wide range of ownerships - from the government, provincial political-military powers and private owners to foreign and NGO sponsors.

Australian-Afghan Moby Group operates some leading stations, including Tolo (Sunrise) TV and Arman FM.

Much of the output on private TVs consists of imported Turkish and Indian music shows and serials, and programmes modelled on Western formats. Tolo TV is the most popular national station.

Islamic rules apply

Journalists "routinely face violence, threats, and intimidation by security forces and officials", says Freedom House (2013).

Laws ban material that is deemed to be against Islamic law and some private stations have angered religious conservatives. TV stations self-censor, and often partially-pixelate images of women.

Foreign-based or foreign-funded radios broadcast in Kabul, including the BBC (89 FM), Radio France Internationale, Deutsche Welle and US-backed networks Radio Free Afghanistan (broadcasting as Azadi Radio) and the Voice of America, which brands in Dari and Pashto as Radio Ashna ("Friend").

BBC World Service is available on FM in other major cities, and on shortwave across Afghanistan.

Newspaper readership has seen a significant leap, from almost nil under Taliban rule. Newspapers tend to reflect more openly on domestic developments than do broadcasters.

Internet access is limited and computer literacy and ownership rates are low. In 2013, the Ministry of Communications said 9.4% of Afghans were using the internet.

Facebook is used by some younger Afghans and the political elite. But limited and expensive internet access acts as a brake on social media use.

The press

Radio

  • Arman FM - Afghanistan's first private radio station, on FM in Kabul and other cities
  • Arakozia FM - private, operated by Moby Group
  • Radio Afghanistan - run by state broadcaster National Radio-TV Afghanistan (NRTA); also operates Kabul Radio FM 93 in the capital and 32 provincial stations

Television

  • National Television Afghanistan - run by state broadcaster (NRTA), via terrestrial relays and satellite
  • Tolo TV - leading private network, operated by Moby Group; via provincial relays and satellite
  • TOLOnews - Moby Group's news network, via satellite; website in English
  • Lemar TV - private, Pashto-language sister station of Tolo TV
  • 1 TV - private, broadcasts to major cities terrestrially
  • Ariana TV - private, broadcasts terrestrially in many provinces and via satellite to Asia, Europe and North America
  • Shamshad TV - private, available terrestrially in major cities

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