Ban on int’l media programs sparks local and global reactions

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The recent decision to prohibit Afghan local media from airing foreign TV channels’ news programs provoked reactions globally.

The Voice of America (VOA), the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and the German company Deutsche Welle (DW) on Sunday reported that their news programs have been banned from local media broadcasts in Afghanistan.

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), the Reporters Without Borders (RSF), and other supporting media organizations called on the Islamic Emirate to reconsider its decision. Yolanda Lόpez, the VOA acting director, urged Afghan rulers to reconsider the decision, calling it a “troubling decision.”

“The halt of international channels’ programs does not meet the favor of either the government or the people of Afghanistan, so we ask the Islamic Emirate to end this,” said Hujatullah Mujadidi, a member of the Afghanistan Federation of Journalists and Media.

The BBC called on the Islamic Emirate to reverse its decision and the DW said it is an increased restriction on freedom of the press and freedom of expression in Afghanistan.

“This is a sign of increasing restrictions on access to information. We ask the Islamic Emirate to prepare a clear mechanism for media publication, instead of imposing a ban on international media programs in Afghanistan,” said Masroor Lutfi, head of the media section at the Afghanistan National Journalist Union.

UNAMA said on Twitter that it is another repressive step against the people of Afghanistan and RSF condemned the decision and called this a “new restriction on freedom of information” and called for the “immediate return of the censored newscasts.”

Meanwhile, the head of the publication department at the Ministry of Information and Culture said there is no problem with the content of international TV programs, but the dress of the channels’ presenters is against the Islamic values and Afghan principles, and this is the major reason behind the recent decision.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Emirate prevented the Afghanistan Federation of Journalists and Media from holding a press conference over concerns about the status of media in Afghanistan, the federation said in a statement.

The federation of journalists and media said the conference was going to be attended by 11 representatives from different media organizations.

“It was planned that today the Afghanistan Federation of Journalists and Media would hold a conference. National and international media outlets were going to cover it, however, unfortunately, due to the verbal order of the officials of the Islamic Emirate, the conference was canceled,” said Ali Asghar Akbarzada, head of the Afghanistan National Journalists’ Union.

Members of the federation said that the Islamic Emirate instructed them not to hold the conference until they receive permission.

“We call on the Islamic Emirate to finalize their decision in the future. They should make the decision as soon as possible and give us a permit so we can hold our conference based on it,” Akbarzada said.

The Islamic Emirate did not comment over whether or not it prohibited the press conference by the media and journalists federation or not, but said that it remains supportive of the media, based on Islamic regulations.

“The Islamic Emirate is committed to cooperation with the media and freedom of speech and it supports media under the Islamic structure,” said Bilal Karimi, deputy spokesman for the Islamic Emirate.

Based on statistics, over 43 percent of media activities have been halted and over 60 percent of media employees have become jobless since the Islamic Emirate swept into power in Afghanistan.

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