Published on 03 May 2012 at 07:46
Analysts believe that despite some challenges, Afghan mass media outlets have developed remarkably over the past decade which is incomparable in the media’s history in Afghanistan. They say that compared to regional media, Afghan mass media outlets have furthered freedom of speech over the past decade.
Officials at the Ministry of Information and Culture (MoIC) say that the MoIC has issued licenses to hundreds of audio, visual, print and online media outlets. Media outlets proved useful in reporting and solving people’s problems.
“In cooperation with the Afghan government and the international community, the MoIC has worked a lot for freedom of speech and issued licenses for several media outlets. But, journalists are still facing some challenges and we have to work hard to overcome these challenges,” said Din Mohammad Mobariz Rashidi, Deputy Minister at the MoIC.
Some people complain about the quality of the programs broadcast through media outlets. They say that mass media outlets should bring further reforms and improve the quality of their programs.
“The number of Afghan media outlets increased over the past ten years, but their quality still remains a challenge,” said Fazilghani Haqmal, a journalist and writer. “The majority of mass media outlets does not consider national interests and receives funds from foreign resources. Some of them are owned by political parties and pursue their own goals. The programs they broadcast are not in line with lives of Afghan people. The extensive growth of media in Afghanistan is a positive step, but it still needs some reforms.”
The development of mass media over the past decade in Afghanistan is an issue which is always explained as an achievement by the Afghan government and its international allies. But its quality and sustainability are still under question.
“Although a number of broadcast media outlets as well as print media were established over the past ten years in Afghanistan, they are unable to meet international standards and broadcast good quality programs,” said Waheedullah Tawhidi, the Director of Media Watch at the Nai Supporting Open Media Organization.
“Unfortunately, facilitates for the establishment of mass media were misused by some individuals. Neither the public TV stations nor the private TV stations were able to broadcast useful and good quality programs for wider consumption. Some established mass media outlets are working against democracy and freedom of speech and they are supported by regional countries, particularly Iran and Pakistan.
There are other mass media outlets that only look after their commercial interests and this is a big threat to institutionalizing freedom of speech in the country,” he adds.
Lema Sahar, a journalist, agrees. She believes that mass media outlets are very weak in broadcasting good quality programs. “The majority of the personnel working with mass media outlets are unprofessional people and they do not even know the principles of journalism,” she said.
But she acknowledges improvement of Afghan mass media. “Compared to the neighboring countries, mass media outlets have relative freedom of speech in Afghanistan. But, appointment of some unprofessional people in the media outlets causes people to lose trust in media programs,” she added.
Tawhidi notes that “mass media outlets will not be able to broadcast if the international community decreases assistance to Afghanistan and if no action is taken to make Afghan media self-sufficient. Of course, there are some mass media actors that work for democracy and freedom of speech, but they occasionally face problems by domestic elements against freedom of speech because they have no affiliation to any regional countries.”
What challenges have the mass media outlets faced over the past decade in Afghanistan?
“Insecurity and violence against journalists are the two main challenges towards freedom of speech in Afghanistan,” said Abdul Hamid Mobariz, Director of the Afghan Journalists Association. “These challenges affected journalists in revealing the facts.”
Tawhidi agrees. “Unfortunately, the cases of violence against journalists increased in the year 1390 (2011-2012) in Afghanistan. Our statistics show that 85 cases of violence against reporters were recorded in the first 9 months of the year and this shows a 30 percent increase compared to the previous year.”
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