This briefing presents an analysis of the challenges facing Afghanistan's media as international military forces prepare to withdraw in 2014. The Afghan media is widely seen as a success story. The country has, over a decade and from nowhere, developed a commercially proﬁtable, increasingly professional, vibrant and popular media which is playing a critical role in the cultural and political life of the nation. Although much of it is home-grown, the independence, energy and character of this media have been substantially enabled by the support of the international community.
But there is a ﬂip side to such success. Afghanistan is a fragile, fractured state and has one of the most fragile and fractured media, where almost anyone with sufﬁcient funds and the opportunity to move quickly has been able to establish a media presence. This environment has enabled the ﬂourishing of television, radio and other media established and owned by powerful political and religious leaders, or by those with allegiance to them. Some fear a future of increased ethnic, sectarian and factional strife being played out through the airwaves.
Within Afghanistan and among the country’s well-wishers, there remains a commitment to the development of a free and independent media capable of holding authority to account, of enabling national and civil dialogue and of informing the citizenry of the country about the issues that affect them. What has been less evident so far is a clear and coherent strategy for bringing this about, especially among the donors who support the media sector.
BBC Media Action. The media of Afghanistan: The Challenges of Transition. Policy Briefing No. 5. BBC Media Action, London, UK (2012) 28 pp.