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Listening Post

The future of Afghanistan's media

Can Afghanistan's fledgling economy support its vast new media sector?

Last Modified: 22 Sep 2013 14:45
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Back in the days of the Taliban, Afghanistan’s media landscape was barren: television sets were banned, radio stations were not allowed to play music and newspapers were forbidden from printing pictures.

But since 2001, the country’s media sector has been revolutionised. Today, there are more than 400 news outlets.

Saad Mohseni, the chairperson of the Moby Media Group says: "Western governments and institutions realised early on that media could play a significant role in terms of facilitating social change in this country and also to open up the world to Afghans.The media informs, it entertains, to a large extent it allows people to let off steam. People can hold institutions and individuals accountable .... It plays the role of many things in a country like this. Western governments may have made a lot of mistakes, helping the media has been one of the big success stories."

The explosive growth in media has been largely bankrolled by the West, primarily the US. But with western troops preparing to leave in 2014, international funding for the media will soon be drying up.

Can Afghanistan’s fledgling economy support its vast new media sector? Or will a western-backed media that is among the most vibrant in the region dwindle, giving way to what critics call 'warlord TV' - the partisan playthings of Afghanistan’s political and religious parties?

Listening Post’s Meenakshi Ravi reports on the future of Afghanistan’s media.

Listening Post can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Saturday: 0830, 1930; Sunday: 1430; Monday: 0430.

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