The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) and the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan signed the U.S. – Afghanistan Radio Agreement today, paving the way for the installation of two medium-wave (AM) transmitters with nationwide reach in Afghanistan.
Radio TV Afghanistan, operated by the Afghan government, will use one transmitter. The Afghan Radio Network Initiative, a joint 24-hour service of Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, will use the second transmitter to broadcast round-the-clock Dari and Pashto language programs. These programs include hourly news and information reports from around the world, as well as feature reports on issues such as health, education, women’s rights and economic reconstruction.
“We hope to be a part of a better day for Afghanistan,” said Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, Chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, who signed the agreement along with His Excellency Dr. Makhdoom Raheen, Afghan Minister of Information and Culture. Dr. Raheen commented that the agreement will “allow the voices of freedom, democracy and tolerance to have a stronger chance of being heard in Afghanistan.”
The Afghan Vice President, Hedayat Amin Arsala, attended the ceremony, along with Ambassador David Johnson, Senior Coordinator for Afghanistan at the Department of State, and representatives from the Embassy of Afghanistan. Ali Jalali, director of the BBG Afghan Radio Network Initiative and the Chief of the Voice of America’s Pashto service, hosted the signing ceremony.
In his welcoming address, Jalali noted that Afghans “depend more than ever on accurate, balanced, and comprehensive news coverage about politics, health, education and many other topics.”
The $10.2 million project, which will include constructing, transporting and installing equipment, is expected to take about six months. In addition to the two AM transmitters, the BBG will also install FM transmitters in up to five cities across Afghanistan.
The BBG supervises all U.S. non-military international broadcasting, including the Voice of America (www.voanews.com), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (www.rferl.org), Radio Free Asia (www.rfa.org) and Radio/TV Marti (www.martinoticias.com).