AfghanistanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s first private television station went on air on Sunday in Kabul. Afghan TV is funded by an Afghan businessman and will have 18 hours of programming a day. Up to now, Afghanistan has had just one state TV channel which broadcasts for a few hours in the evening. Under the Taliban there was no television station at all, and it was forbidden to listen to music or watch satellite broadcasts.
The free-to-air private station run by Ahmed Shah Afghanzai is a major step towards developing a private TV sector and intends to go national within a year. “Afghan TV has started operations with capital of US$ 200,000 and the eventual capital to cover all the country via satellite is estimated at US$ 3 million,” Afghanzai said.
The new station has some programmes planned in which women will not be wearing the traditional headscarf, or may be wearing western clothes, a stance which could provoke a strong reaction from Islamist groups in Afghanistan which recently protested against broadcasts of women singing on state television. Afghanzai is concerned but said: “There will be some reactions from certain circles but we will continue to go the way we have chosen.”
Other private channels have registered with the Ministry of Information and Culture, and are to start airing programmes soon. State television, which broadcasts for limited hours at the moment, is also slated to soon become a 24-hour channel aired via satellite all over Afghanistan with financial help from India. (AFP)