Radio Station Manager making new content under the Taliban
All content needs to be reviewed by the Taliban cultural affairs chief before going on air.
Gul Ahmad (not his real name) runs a local radio station - established in 2007 - in the northern part of Afghanistan. He recently had to reduce the number of his staff members due to financial difficulties whereas, before the Taliban takeover, he managed over 26 staff members. Previously, he could pay each staff member $150, but now the pay to each staff member has been reduced to $70 as there are fewer commercial advertisements and the radio’s income has fallen. He said:
“Poor economy, unemployment and insecurity are some of the biggest challenges media workers face in Afghanistan. Print media have had pushbacks as electricity prices have gone up, and our income generation through commercials and advertisements has stopped.”
Gul Ahmad’s radio has done a u-turn on the content it produces and broadcasts. Popular entertainment programs have been replaced by religious ones that barely attract any audience. Alongside the radio station, Gul Ahmad ran a TV channel as well. However, the TV stopped broadcasting soon after the Taliban seized power.
Another impediment to Gul Ahmad’s work is that he has been told to send every single report to the Taliban's head of cultural affairs to be reviewed and approved in advance of broadcasting. Since the re-emergence of the Taliban, many media outlets have simply closed down. Gul Ahmad was determined to keep going. He did have to stop for a month just after the take over as he needed to acquire a work permit in order to resume his work. However, the general environment and the work he produces are nothing like before. Before, the radio had 20 hours of broadcasting whereas, now it is only 11 hours, and it's difficult to do anything topical or responsive as all content needs to be reviewed by the Taliban cultural affairs chief before going on air.
In his interview with Afghan Witness (AW), Gul Ahmad said that before the take over, media laws guided their activities, but under the Taliban, there are no rules and regulations, but mere permission issued by the Taliban’s head of Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice. He added:
“I was in the meeting when the Taliban head of Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice said that he listened to radios and he could attack them and no one would be able to prevent him from doing so.”
Interview by Afghan Witness