BBG Research Series: Setting the Dial on Afghanistan

TV Use Overtakes Radio In Afghanistan

Research data from the BBG and Gallup shows that the media market in Afghanistan is primarily split between radio and television. While Afghanistan remains one of the few media markets in which shortwave radio use is still in the double digits, presenters at a research briefing today showed that TV use is overtaking radio for the first time in the country.

“Viewership rates are particularly high in the northern part of Afghanistan, where the electricity supply is more reliable, and drop off in the south where we see more Taliban activity,” said Paul Tibbitts, director of market insight and evaluation at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

TV usage has nearly doubled since 2008, with current weekly viewership at 64% of the total population. Urban residents and non-Pashtuns are more likely to tune in, and TV viewing also increases with education level.

“Those with a post-secondary education are the most avid media users for news overall,” said Sonja Gloeckle, director of research for the International Broadcasting Bureau. Highly educated Afghans were more likely to use TV (72%), radio (51%), Internet (19%), SMS (15%), and social media (14%) on a daily basis for news than other segments of the population.

These findings indicate the best media avenues to reach Afghans during a particularly uncertain transition with continued NATO troop withdrawals. According to Gallup World Poll data, Afghans’ quality of life ratings are at the lowest in eight years. Based on self-reporting zero Afghans can be considered “thriving” within Gallup’s life evaluation scale.

“When you see life evaluation assessments as dismal as what we see in Afghanistan coupled with the anticipated withdrawal of NATO forces and a murky political roadmap, it is quite concerning for all of us following events in the country closely,” said Mohamed Younis, senior analyst and senior practice consultant with Gallup.

About the BBG

The Broadcasting Board of Governors is an independent federal agency supervising all U.S. government-supported, civilian international media. Its mission is to inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy. BBG networks include the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the Middle East Broadcasting Networks (Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa), Radio Free Asia, and the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (Radio and TV Martí). BBG programming has a measured audience of 278 million in more than 100 countries and in 58 languages.