After the Taliban banned Voice of America (VOA) broadcasts from terrestrial television, the US government-funded news agency has launched a 24/7 direct-to-home satellite-delivered television channel for Afghanistan, local media reported.
The channel carries uncensored news and information in both the Pashto and Dari languages of the country, according to Voice of America (VOA).
VOA’s programs were ordered off affiliated television stations in Afghanistan effective on March 27, as part of a broad ban on content regarded as undermining Taliban policies, including prohibiting women from anchoring newscasts with men.
VOA’s new TV stream, identified as “VOA Afghanistan,” is on the Yahsat Y-1A satellite (52.2 degrees East), Transponder 12 (downlink frequency 11.938 GHz), Channel 469. The Yahsat satellite is Afghanistan’s most popular platform, ensuring the Afghan audience will have access to VOA’s programming despite the Taliban censorship, reported VOA.
“Afghanistan is now one of the most repressive media markets in the world,” said Acting VOA Director Yolanda Lopez.
“Despite the Taliban’s attempt to end press freedom, VOA News stands by its Afghan audience with credible and authoritative news and information,” Lopez added.
The new VOA Afghanistan satellite stream includes its popular “TV Ashna” newscasts, its women’s show “Etesal,” viewer call-in programming, and programming from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Azadi radio. Additional programming is planned, including entertainment shows to fill a void in Afghanistan, where local channels cannot air music programs, reported VOA.
It further reported that the VOA satellite channel has been in development since August, before the fall of Afghanistan’s elected government. The channel is also accessible on YouTube and on VOA’s Pashto and Dari language websites.
Domestic and international critics say media and freedom of speech have worsened under Taliban rule in Afghanistan.
Afghan journalists have been repeatedly detained and subjected to violence by security forces. In December, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) released a survey, showing that at least 40 per cent of Afghan media outlets have disappeared and more than 80 per cent of women journalists lost their jobs since the Taliban takeover of the country.
Hundreds of journalists have also left Afghanistan since August for fear of Taliban reprisals or because of problems associated with practising their profession under the new rulers.
More than 6,400 journalists and media employees have lost their jobs since August 15 when the Taliban seized control of the Afghan capital, Kabul, according to the RSF survey. ANI