Only Two Radio Stations Broadcast Their Programs in Central Afghanistan

By Alias Tahiri

Since August 15, many local media outlets in Daikundi and Bamiyan provinces in central Afghanistan have ceased operations. Some local publishers, who ceased operations, say that journalists have lost their jobs as media outlets downsized in these provinces.

Hamid Rahimi, a reporter, and director of the local Paywand radio station in Bamiyan province told 8am that many foreign and domestic NGOs had ceased operations after the fall of the previous government. According to Rahimi, local media are therefore unable to cover electricity costs and staff salaries. The local correspondent also adds that the Taliban have imposed severe restrictions on media coverage, which has made it difficult to produce media content.

In addition, the restrictions imposed on female journalists are another reason why the local media cannot operate anymore. Of the twelve employees of Radio Paywand, seven were women

Rahimi says the torture of some journalists and civil society activists in Kabul and the provinces indicates that the Taliban treat Afghan journalists violently. Therefore, many media outlets and journalists don’t want to continue their jobs. The local radio station is one of these media outlets.

The Afghanistan National Journalists’ Union (ANJU) also published a report on Sunday (October 2nd), saying that 33% of journalists are currently employed while another 67% are unemployed. “The findings of this poll indicate that with the rise of the Taliban, 70% of the country’s media operations have ceased and another 30% continue to operate,” said the ANJU.

Meanwhile, Mohammad Anwar Shahab, the owner of the Sada-e-Qarya radio station in Daikundi province, said that his media outlet had closed since the Taliban came to power. According to Shahab, out of five local media outlets in Daikundi province, only one is operating and the others have all been closed. Shahab adds that his media now only covers current events on social media and has no radio production programs. As the Sada-e-Qarya radio station closed, 15 employees, including six women, lost their jobs.

There is currently only one radio station in Daikundi province, as well as another in Bamiyan. Masoud Ekhtiari, a correspondent for Nasim local radio in Bamiyan, told 8am that the media resumed its broadcasting two days after the fall of Bamiyan to the Taliban. Ekhtiari added that nothing is the same as before and the previous laws are no longer in force. These changes have had a negative impact on the media.

Ekhtiari says that the problems of the media have multiplied with the loss of its revenues, adding that it has faced problems in overcoming its expenses. Local reporters in central Afghanistan say that they sometimes encounter people who are unaware of media laws, stressing that Taliban forces mistreat journalists. According to them, the Taliban’s restrictions on female employees has also limited them.

Reporters say some civil society and women’s rights advocates fear the Taliban and are reluctant to speak on socio-political issues. This, they say, has made access to information difficult. They add that the Taliban have easier access to local media. Therefore, publishing critical articles can cause a big problem. According to local reporters, journalists are self-censoring.

According to reporters, there is no variety of radio programs, including entertainment, culture, and music. The media cannot produce content, only covering everyday events. According to them, many unspoken events in the central regions are not adequately covered.

On the other hand, Maulawi Saiful Rahman Mohammadi, the Taliban’s director of information and culture for Bamiyan province, told 8am that many media outlets used to operate in the province, but now only the Radio Bamiyan and the Radio Nasim headquartered in Daikundi province, have resumed their publications.

Mohammadi said other local media outlets have also been invited to resume activities. According to the Taliban’s director of information and culture, the province’s national radio and television are also inactive due to technical problems. He added that efforts are underway to resolve the technical problem of the state-run media outlet. Before the Taliban’s takeover of the country, there were about a dozen radio stations, visual media, and newspapers operating in Bamiyan province, but now only two radio stations have been reactivated.

With more than 150 media outlets closed after the August 15 event, the European Union (EU) has called the media operations in Afghanistan necessary. The EU has said that a media surveillance leads to good governance in Afghanistan.