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Feature: Post-Taliban Afghanistan witnesses rapid developing media

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KABUL, Nov. 12 (Xinhua) — Glancing at newspaper copies at a newsstand here in Kabul, the capital of post-Taliban Afghanistan, Ahmad Sarosh, 47, said that he was happy to see dozens of daily papers and magazines published today in his country.

“Almost every morning I come here to buy a newspaper and make myself aware about the development and situation at home and abroad,” Sarosh said.

During the Taliban reign, which was toppled by the U.S.-led invasion in late 2001, only a few of state-run media outlets, including the national radio, had served as the mouthpiece of the regime.

Both the print and electronic media have been rapidly developing in the post-Taliban nation as more than 300 newspapers, weekly, fortnightly, monthly, about half a dozen private news agencies, several media production firms and more than 40 radio stations are operational in today’s Afghanistan while many more are in the offing.

Over 80 individuals and companies, according to Afghan officials, have registered with the Ministry for Information and Culture to launch their are operational in the Central Asian state.

Afghans considers the freedom of press and boosting media as one of the major achievements of the Afghan government over the past six years.

“In the past, we had only one television channel run and controlled by government,” Sarosh said. “Fortunately today we have10 television channels and by airing different and fascinating programs they keep us busy and happy.”

Though being young in the war-torn country, the private media, has taken edge from the state-run press entities.

“I earn about 400 Afghanis (8 U.S. dollars) daily through selling newspapers and magazines,” said 59-year-old Noorudin, a local newspaper hawker.

The old hawker and father of seven, who had suffered due to unemployment during the Taliban regime, added that developing media like other national institutions can create more job opportunities for people in the country.

More than 5,000 people are said to have been absorbed by different media outlets in the country over the past five years.

The reason behind the fast development of media in Afghanistan, is the dynamic and broad minded press law, which guarantees freedom of press and facilitates an Afghan national to establish media bodies, media observers say.

The annual tax of a newspaper to the Afghan government, according to editor of a local newspaper, is 10,000 Afghanis (200 U.S. dollars) while a television channel with round the clock broadcasting has to pay 5 percent of its income as tax to the government.

“Annual tax of a television channel depends on its income,” said Dr. Ahmad Shah, an official at the Revenue Department of the Finance Ministry. “It could be 1,000 U.S. dollars and could be 100,000 U.S. dollars and it has to pay 5 percent of its income to the government.”

Increasing media outlets and cheap price of newspapers have boosted the culture of newspaper reading in the war-devastated country, which has an adult literacy rate of 28 percent and some 29 million population.

“This year I have 35 to 40 clients daily to buy newspapers and magazines while last year it was less than 30,” Noorudin added.

Nevertheless, the inhabitants of rural areas have little access to print media as media runners seldom send newspapers to the countryside where vast population of the country live.

To quash their thirst for media and get access to the world, some villagers in rural areas, have dared to install satellite dishes and watch hundreds of European and Asian channels in the conservative state, where watching television, cinema and other entertainments had been banned by the Taliban regime during its six-year reign.

“In addition to watching western movies and Indian soap operas, I also watch Afghan television channels through satellite dish with friends, relatives and neighbors at my home in village,” said Syed Aqa, a villager from Nahrin district in northern Baghlan province.

Using a China-made small generator to light his home and run his mini-screen, Aqa, 32, noted, “It is the 21st century and we have to adopt our way of life in accordance with the requirements of our era.”

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Written by afghandevnews

November 12, 2007 at 9:37 pm

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