The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) has unveiled a multi-pronged package to support and assist media in Afghanistan, including FM transmitters that went on the air in Kabul, Afghanistan today.
The assistance package also contains AM transmitters, additional programming in Dari and Pashto and training for journalists.
The BBG, a federal agency that oversees all U.S. nonmilitary, international broadcasting, is coordinating media efforts by its entities, the Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), which operates the Congressionally-mandated Radio Free Afghanistan.
The FM transmitters, which began operation today, provide service to listeners in and around Kabul. One transmitter carries Radio Afghanistan, operated by the Afghan Interim Authority (AIA), on 105.2 FM. The other transmitter, 100.5 FM, carries RFE/RL and VOA programming in Dari and Pashto 24 hours a day.
Another key BBG initiative involves two high-powered AM transmitters with nationwide reach across Afghanistan. That initiative is expected to take several months to complete.
In Kabul earlier this month, Sayed Makdoum Raheen, the Afghan Minister of Information and Culture, and David S. Sedney, the U.S. Charge d’Affaires, signed a letter of intent for the BBG to provide the transmitters. One will be used by Radio Afghanistan; the other by VOA and RFE/RL.
“We see a thriving media as vitally important to supporting the Afghan government as officials build national unity, restore their culture and promote peace and democracy across the land,” said Marc Nathanson, the BBG chairman.
Robert Reilly, VOA’s director, said much of Afghanistan’s media infrastructure, including transmitters, were destroyed during the Taliban regime. “We’re pleased to give this help because radio is crucial to the reunification of Afghanistan during this period of reconstruction.”
Other BBG media initiatives in Afghanistan include:
Increased broadcasting in Dari and Pashto via shortwave radio and FM. Since September 11, 2001, VOA has increased its broadcasts and rebroadcasts to nearly four hours in each languages. RFE/RL has increased broadcasts to 10.5 hours a day, roughly five hours in each language. Programming streams are coordinated to give maximum coverage.
Tom Dine, RFE/RL’s president, noted that his organization, based in Prague, Czech Republic, recently increased Dari and Pashto broadcasting by four new hours a day. The additional airtime “will allow us to better serve U.S. national interests as well as the needs of our listeners by providing them with more news and analysis,” he said.
Staffing. VOA and RFE/RL have increased coverage of events in and around Afghanistan. More than 30 correspondents and stringers work for the services, covering national, local, health, education and humanitarian events.
Training. RFE/RL staff has trained more than 20 Afghan journalists on fundamental journalism techniques. Journalists have undergone a one-week course learning how to conduct an interview, distinguish between news and commentary and use basic equipment. RFE/RL has translated its “Guide to Radio Journalism” into Dari and Pashto. With a $436,753 grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), VOA aims to train about 18 stringers on how to report events the area.
For additional information, please contact the Joe O’Connell at VOA (202) 619-2538, Joan Mower at the BBG (202) 260-0167 or Martin Zvaners at RFE/RL (202) 457.6948