Media in Afghanistan

By Abdullah Qazi / September 4, 2018
Last updated: October 7, 2018

There are close to 80 TV networks, about 150 radio stations, and hundreds of publications, such as newspapers, magazines, and online news agencies in Afghanistan. Afghan media saw major growth after the fall of the Taliban.

Major Events (brief history)TV StationsRadio Stations | Publications (Print) | News Agencies


MAJOR EVENTS (brief history of Afghan media)

  • 1873: The periodical Shams-ul-Nehar (Sunny Day) was printed under Amir Shir Ali, after a request by scholar Sayed Jamaluddin Afghani.  Around 40- 48 issues were published.  This made Amir Shir Ali, the first Afghan leader to support newspaper publications.  Mirza Abdul Ali Khan was the head of the first lithographical printing press in Afghanistan.
  • 1906 (January 11): Siraj-ul-Akhbar (The Light of the News) was published (in Dari) by Abdul-Rauf; however after just one issue, publication was stopped.
  • 1911: Mahmud Tarzi (pioneer of Afghan journalism) revived Siraj-ul-Akhbar. For the first year of the bi-monthly newspaper, Tarzai lithographed it, until printing machines were brought in from abroad. The newspaper became an important political newspaper; it was highly critical of European colonialism, as well as the backward thinking of the conservative elite. The British banned the newspaper in India.  Siraj-ul-Akhbar introduced modernist ideas and new political and cultural terms into Afghanistan’s conservative society.
  • 1918: Mahmud Tarzi began publication of Siraj-ul-Atfal (Light of the Children), a children’s journal. Six issues were published.
  • 1919: Mahmud Tarzi handed over the editorship of Siraj-ul-Akhbar to Abdul Hadi Dawi (President of the Upper House of Parliament). The name of the newspaper was changed to  Aman-i-Afghan (Afghan Peace) and it replaced Siraj ul-Akhbar. The new paper now served as the official publication of Amanllah Khan.
  • 1925: Radio Afghanistan (Kabul) was established in Kabul by Amanullah Khan.
  • 1927: Anis (Companion) started publication. It started out as a free newspaper, until the government took it over in 1931. It is still published by the Afghan government today. Two other free newspapers started publication during Amanullah Khan’s rule, Nasim-e Sahar (Early Morning Breeze), and Nowroz (New Day), both ceased publication after a few issues). Government controlled publications during Amanullah Khan’s rule also included: Arshad-ul-Naswan (Guidance for Women), Satara-e- Afghan (Afghan Star), Pashtun Ghag (Pashtun Voice), Urdo (Army), Etehad- e Mashragi (Unison of East), Etefaq-e Islam (Unison of Islam), Baidar (Bravery), Tolo-e Afghan (Rise of the Afghan), Islah (Renovation), Soorwat (Riches), Haqiqat (Truth), Ghazi (Hero), and Majmoa-e Sahia (Collection of Health).
  • 1939: Bakhtar (Bactria) News Agency was established in Kabul.
  • 1940s: Government allows some independent news media (newspapers).
  • 1950s: Afghan journalism began to progress slowly, however, in 1953, Prime Minister Mohammad Daoud ordered the closure of independent newspapers after articles were published criticizing the monarchy and the rule elite.
  • 1959: Government launched publication of Hewad (Homeland) newspaper (in Pashto). It is still published under the Ministry of Information and Culture.
  • 1962: First English language newspaper, Kabul Times was founded.
  • 1964: Television was first introduced in Afghanistan.
  • 1965: Press Law was introduced, allowing some freedom of the press (obscene or anti-Islam view points were not allowed).
  • 1970s: Nearly every Afghan household owned a radio.
  • 1973: Mohammad Daoud placed severe restrictions on independent Afghan media. He shutdown 19 newspapers.
  • 1977: First government state-run TV channel (Afghanistan National Television) aired – the channel was part of RTA – Radio Television Afghanistan.
  • 1978: First color broadcast on Afghan TV aired.
  • 1979: Afghan media fell under the influence of the Soviet Union and their communist allies in Afghanistan.
  • 1980s – Many Soviet programming aired on Afghan TV in Afghanistan. The news programming as well as print publications, were against the United States, and the Afghan Mujahideen, painting them as criminals and puppets of the West. However, the major Afghan Mujahideen groups, such as Jamiat-e Islami and Hezb-e Islami published their own newspapers and magazines in Pakistan, to counter the pro-Soviet / communist propaganda. During this time, the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) was also established in Peshawar, Pakistan (August 1982) by Muhammad Yaqoub Sharafat .
  • 1992 – Dramatic decline in programming, but TV was still available.
  • 1996 – 2001 (Taliban rule) – Complete ban on TV; Taliban only permitted radio and print, but with severe restrictions. In 2000, the Taliban launched their daily newspaper, The Islamic Emirate.
  • 2001 (December): After fall of Taliban, Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA) was re-launched.
  • 2002: Kabul Times resumed normal daily publication.
  • 2003: The first private radio station was established in Afghanistan – Arman FM
  • 2004: Tolo (Rising) TV channel and Pajhwok (Echo) Afghan News Agency were launched.
  • 2005: Ariana Television Network was launched.
  • 2006: Lemar (Sun) TV channel, and Tatobay (weekly Pashto newspaper) was launched.
  • 2010: Tolo News, first 24/7 news channel, 1TV (February) and Khaama Press news agency were launched (October). Also, the first ever radio station dedicated to Rock ‘n’ Roll (Kabul Rock, FM 108) was launched by The Killid Group.
  • 2011: Khurshid TV channel was founded (Feb 22nd).
  • 2014 (August 31): Digital TV system was inaugurated. Another 24/7 TV news channel (Ariana News) was launched.
  • 2017 (May): The first all-female TV news station, Zan TV (Woman TV), founded by media entrepreneur Hamid Samar, was launched in Kabul.

Below is information on the major Afghan media outlets
(in alphabetical order)


MAJOR TV STATIONS

1TV

  • Format: TV channel
  • Launched in February 2010
  • Provides content in both Dari and Pashto
  • One of the leading privately owned commercial television stations in Afghanistan
  • Owned by Fahim Hashimy
  • Largest operating unit of GroupOne Media
  • Official website: http://www.1tv.af/

Ariana Television Network (ATN)

  • Format: TV channel
  • Private: Owned by Afghan-American Ehsan Bayat (owner of Afghan Wireless Communication Company). Bayat also owns 2 radio stations associated with this network: Radio Ariana FM 93.5 & Ariana News Radio 100.2.
  • Launched in summer 2005 and aired internationally in 2006
  • Considered to be the largest private media channel in Afghanistan – reaches 33 out of 34 provinces in Afghanistan
  • Sister TV channel: Ariana News
  • Provides content in both Dari and Pashto
  • Official website: https://arianatelevision.com/
  • Note: ATN is not affiliated with Ariana Afghanistan TV, which is based in the United States (Irvine, California) and owned by Nabil Miskinyar.

Ariana News

  • Format: TV channel
  • Launched in 2014 as a 24/7 news channel
  • Private: Owned by Afghan-American Ehsan Bayat
  • Sister channel of Ariana Television Network (ATN)
  • Provides content in both Dari and Pashto
  • Official website: https://ariananews.af/

Khurshid

  • Format: TV channel
  • Privately owned
  • Launched on February 22, 2011
  • Provides content in both Dari and Pashto.
  • Official website: http://khurshid.tv/

Lemar

  • Format: TV channel
  • Most popular Pashto language channel and 4th most popular channel in Afghanistan
  • Private – owned BY MOBY Group, sister channel of Tolo and Tolo News
  • Launched on August 15th, 2006
  • Official website: http://www.lemar.tv/

Tolo

  • Format: TV channel
  • Private – owned by MOBY Group, which was founded by Afghan entrepreneur Saad Mohseni with financial assistance from the United States, and media mogul Rupert Murdoch.
  • Launched in 2004; it is currently the most popular TV channel in Afghanistan.
  • Provides content in both Dari and Pashto.
  • Official website: https://www.tolo.tv/

Tolo News

  • Format: TV channel
  • Private – owned by MOBY Group, sister channel of Tolo and Lemar.
  • Launched in 2010.
  • Tolo News is Afghanistan’s first 24/7 news channel; it broadcasts in Dari and Pashto. Its content is also available via the internet and social media in English, Dari and Pashto.
  • Official website: https://www.tolonews.com/

Shamshad

  • Format: TV channel (Satellite)
  • One of the most popular Pashto language channels
  • Private – founded Fazel Karim Fazel
  • Launched in early 2006
  • Official website: http://www.shamshadtv.tv

Radio Television Afghanistan – RTA

  • Format: TV channel
  • National Television of Afghanistan – government owned
  • Provides content in both Dari and Pashto.
  • Launched in 1997
  • Official website: https://rta.org.af/

Zan TV

Other TV Channels

  • ARIA TV (private, launched on April 4, 2011; programming is for children and teenagers).
  • Shaiq (private, launched in mid 2008).
  • Baano (another women’s network, launched July 2017).

MAJOR RADIO STATIONS

Arakozia FM 90.3

Arman FM 98.1

  • First private radio station in Afghanistan; founded in 2003 by Saad Mohseni.
  • Latest music from Afghanistan and the world
  • Official website: http://www.arman.fm/

Ariana FM 93.5

  • One of the biggest privately owned FM radio stations in Afghanistan
  • Established in 2005 by Afghan-American Ehsan Bayat
  • Operates 24/7, and offers programming in Dari, Pashto, Uzbeki, and Turkmeni languages
  • Official website (streaming available): https://ariana.fm/

Ariana News Radio 100.2

  • Sister radio station of FM 93.5
  • Private owned by by Afghan-American Ehsan Bayat
  • Provides daily news on Afghanistan
  • Official Facebook Page

Kilid Group (TKG)

  • Established in 2002 – Foreign funded (US/EU)
  • Runs 8 local radio stations, ex. 87.5 FM in Kabul.
  • 2010 – launched first radio station in Afghanistan dedicated to Rock ‘n’ Roll (Kabul Rock, FM 108.0)
  • Official website: http://tkg.af/english/

Khurshid FM 98.6

Radio Kabul FM 93

  • State owned radio station, established in 1925
  • The station had been re-named a few times (ex. Afghan Broadcasting System, Radio Afghanistan); during Taliban rule over Kabul, it was called Voice of Sharia (Shariat Ghagh)
  • Official website: http://rta.org.af/

Salam Watandar – 98.9 FM

Other Radio Stations

  • 87.5 FM (Radio Watandar – Herat)
  • 88.5 FM (Radio Tarun – Oruzgan)
  • 88.8 FM (Radio Awashtun – Paktia)
  • 89.0 FM (Radio Kalagush – Nuristan)
  • 89.1 FM (Radio Zama – Kandahar)
  • 89.2 FM (Radio Nan – Khost)
  • 89.8 FM (Radio Cheenar – Khost)
  • 89.7 FM (Radio Safa – Nangarhar)
  • 89.2 FM (Radio Zala – Kunar)
  • 89.2 FM (Radio Nari – Kunar)
  • 90.6 FM (Radio Hamisha Bahar – Nangarhar)
  • 90.7 FM (Radio Nakhter – Kunar)
  • 91.3 FM (Shaiq Radio – Nangarhar)
  • 91.3 FM (Radio Mojdah – Herat)
  • 91.5 FM (Radio Omid – Takhar)
  • 91.8 FM (Radio Abasin – Nangarhar)
  • 92.1 FM (Radio Zala – Nangarhar)
  • 92.7 FM (Radio Maiwand – Kandahar)
  • 92.4 FM (Radio Nargis – Nangarhar)
  • 95.5 FM (Radio Shaher – Kabul)
  • 96.9 FM (Radio Aman – Nangarhar)
  • 97.1 FM (Radio Ansar – Herat)
  • 97.1 FM (Radio Enikas)
  • 97.5 FM (Radio Youth)
  • 97.8 FM (Radio Muram – Nangarhar)
  • 945 AM (Radio Talwasa)
  • 100.5 FM (Radio Azadi – Kabul)
  • 102.2 FM (Radio Spoghmay – Kabul)
  • 104.3 FM (Radio Eslah – Balkh)
  • 105.5 FM (Radio Dunya – Parwan)
  • 105.5 FM (Radio Mowj)
  • 106.1 FM (Afghan Ghag)

MAJOR PUBLICATIONS

Kabul Times

  • Format: Newspaper
  • Only state-run daily English language newspaper
    • Established on February 27, 1962 during the rule of King Mohammad Zahir.
    • Stopped daily publication after fall of Dr. Najibullah Ahmadzai’s government. During the government of President Burhanuddin Rabbani, Kabul Times was published weekly. When the Taliban took control, it suspended the publication, but later allowed weekly publications. It resumed normal daily publication in March 2002.
  • Chief Editor: Hamidullah Arefi
  • Official Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/thekabultimes/

Other Newspapers

Private

State-owned / supported / sponsored


NEWS AGENCIES

Afghan Islamic Press

  • Format: News Agency
  • Founded in August 1982 in Peshawar, Pakistan, by Muhammad Yaqoub Sharafat
  • According to it’s official website, after the removal of the Taliban from power, AIP registered with Afghanistan’s  Ministry of Information and Culture Ministry in Kabul.
  • Official website: http://www.afghanislamicpress.com  (content available via subscription)
  • Official Facebook Page

Bakhtar News Agency (BNA)

Khaama Press

  • Format: News Agency (Online)
  • Private, founded by Khushnood Nabizada in October 2010
  • Provides content in English, Pashto, and Dari
  • Official website: https://www.khaama.com/

Pajhwok

  • Format: News Agency (Online)
  • Private, founded by Danish Karokhel
  • Founded in 2003, and officially launched in March 2004
  • The agency provides news reports in English, Dari, and Pashto, as well as photographs, video footage and audio clips to international wire agencies, television and radio stations
  • Content available via paid subscription
  • Website: https://www.pajhwok.com