søndag 28. november 2021

Switched off: Afghan media struggle to survive under Taliban rule

The romantic serials have gone after the Taliban warned against racy content, the popular women’s call-in shows were axed after the militants said they didn’t want female journalists on air, and news investigations were cancelled after officials demanded oversight before anything was broadcast.

So perhaps unsurprisingly, most people who used to tune into Radio Sanga, once one of the most popular stations in southern Afghanistan, have turned off. “There is still some fun content but I’m not sure if we can continue,” said owner Agha Sher Munar, who has lost nearly 80% of his 1.5 million listeners and laid off a third of his journalists, including all three women who worked there. Also gone is a lot of his passion for journalism. “The Taliban asked us to share anything before we broadcast it, so now we just repeat news that has gone out on official stations. Recently I heard about an incident in the city, and I wasn’t even interested in sending anyone to check it out.”

Afghanistan’s thriving media sector was seen as one of the few success stories of the past two decades, a standout in a region where censorship, arrests and even murders of journalists are more common than support for a free press.