The prospects for the Afghan media looked uncertain as the Taliban took control of Kabul on 15 August 2021.
A lively and crowded broadcasting market had developed under previous governments, with most outlets being privately-owned. Before August 2021, there were dozens of TV networks and more than 170 FM radio stations.
Within weeks of the takeover, media rights groups reported that more than 150 outlets nationwide had closed. Financial problems and restrictions on media freedom were among the main reasons given.
The Afghanistan National Journalists Union said newspapers had stopped printing, with only a few still operating online.
Taliban officials spoke of media freedom "within the framework of Sharia [Islamic law] and national values". However, editorial lines changed and there was significantly less criticism of the group in the media.
The on-screen presence of women became a rarity and music largely disappeared from broadcast output.
Moby Group is the leading private media group. It runs the most-watched network, Tolo TV. Privately-owned Hasht-e Sobh is the most popular newspaper.
There were around 8.6 million internet users by early 2021, 22% of the population (We Are Social/Hootsuite).
Limited and expensive internet access acts as a brake on social media use.
The following outlets operated in the media environment that existed before the Taliban entered Kabul in August 2021:
- Hasht-e Sobh ("Daily 8am") - private, secular daily
- Hewad ("Homeland") - government-sponsored daily
- Anis ("Companion") - government-sponsored daily
- Mandegar ("Lasting") - private, daily
- Weesa ("Trust") - private daily
- Arman-e Melli ("National Aspiration") - private, daily
- The Daily Afghanistan - private
- Daily Outlook - private, English-language
- Afghanistan Times - officially-funded, English-language
- 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
- Salam Watandar - non-profit production house, has 47 partner stations
- Kilid Group (TKG) - US/EU-funded public media group comprising 11 local radios
- National Television Afghanistan - run by state broadcaster (RTA), 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
- 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
- 1 TV - private, broadcasts to major cities terrestrially
- Bakhtar News Agency - state-run, English-language pages
- Pajhwok Afghan News - private, English-language pages
- Afghan Islamic Press - private, based in Peshawar, Pakistan; English-language pages
- TOLOnews News Portal - part of Moby Group - private, English-language pages
- Khaama Press - private, English-language pages