MODERN JOURNALISM AND CHALLENGES OF TRADITION

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MODERN JOURNALISM AND CHALLENGES OF TRADITION

AFGHANISTAN EXPERIENCE

6-7 June 2008, London UK
Zaid Mohseni
Director

From the Communicating with the Persian Speaking World conference at School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London

Published in: Education
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MODERN JOURNALISM AND CHALLENGES OF TRADITION

  1. 1. Media Group www.mobygroup.com MODERN JOURNALISM AND CHALLENGES OF TRADITION AFGHANISTAN EXPERIENCE 6-7 June 2008, London UK Zaid Mohseni Director TOLO TV Wazir Akbar Khan, Kabul, Afghanistan. Phone: +93(0)799 32 10 10 Email: info@tolo.tv Web: www.tolo.tv
  2. 2. BRIEF BACKGROUND ON AFGHANISTAN MOBY MEDIA GROUP Wazir Akbar Khan, Kabul, Afghanistan. Phone: +93(0)799 32 10 10 Email: info@tolo.tv Web: www.tolo.tv
  3. 3. BRIEF BACKGROUND ON AFGHANISTAN •History of war 1978-2001 has resulted in climate of fear and distrust •One of world’s largest drug producers (2007) •One of poorest countries in the world •Very low literacy rate •Lack of electricity, public health, water •More than 50% younger than 21 yo •TV/visual images/music banned under Taliban • Current population approaching 32.7m (July 08 Est. CIA World Factbook) MOBY MEDIA GROUP Wazir Akbar Khan, Kabul, Afghanistan. Phone: +93(0)799 32 10 10 Email: info@tolo.tv Web: www.tolo.tv
  4. 4. BRIEF BACKGROUND ON AFGHANISTAN •Progress since 2001 •Telecoms •“New” Media •Radio – 20+ in Kabul (total of 75 planned) •Print - hundreds •TV – 14 in Kabul (total of 18 planned) •Internet and other • Construction of roads – Kabul/Kandahar, Kabul/Mazar, Kabul/Jalalabad/Pakistani border •Main parties involved with media development • Private sector • USAID • Internews • Various others MOBY MEDIA GROUP Wazir Akbar Khan, Kabul, Afghanistan. Phone: +93(0)799 32 10 10 Email: info@tolo.tv Web: www.tolo.tv
  5. 5. BACKGROUND ON MOBY MEDIA GROUP •ARMAN FM – First commercial radio station in Afghanistan (April 2003) •Afghan Scene Magazine (2003) – English monthly •TOLO TV – Launched in October 2004, first national commercial TV •YELLOW PAGES AFGHANSITAN – 2005 – b2b platform •LEMAR TV – launched in August 2006 – first predominantly Pashto national TV channel •ARIA PRODUCTION – Producing ads, content such as serials, dubbing, feature film support, video clips •BARBUD MUSIC (2007)– Production of music •456 (2007) – telephony IVR – interactive access to content •QUQNOOS.COM (2008) – Online news portal Wazir Akbar Khan, Kabul, Afghanistan. Phone: +93(0)799 32 10 10 Email: info@tolo.tv Web: www.mobygroup.com MOBY MEDIA GROUP
  6. 6. BACKGROUND ON MOBY MEDIA GROUP Wazir Akbar Khan, Kabul, Afghanistan. Phone: +93(0)799 32 10 10 Email: info@tolo.tv Web: www.mobygroup.com MOBY MEDIA GROUP
  7. 7. BACKGROUND ON MOBY MEDIA GROUP •Current coverage: • ARMAN FM – 14 cities free to air and on internet •Tolo TV - 14 cities free to air, entire Afghan region by satellite (DTH) •Lemar TV – 8 cities free to air, entire Afghan region by satellite (DTH) •Afghan Scene Magazine – 10,000 copies a month distributed around Afghanistan and internationally • Yellow Pages – 80,000 copies • Quqnoos.com – online news portal in Dari/Pashto and English Wazir Akbar Khan, Kabul, Afghanistan. Phone: +93(0)799 32 10 10 Email: info@tolo.tv Web: www.mobygroup.com MOBY MEDIA GROUP
  8. 8. MOBY MEDIA GROUP ACHIEVEMENTS – ARMAN FM • First Afghan female DJ on Arman FM, 2003 • First time female and male DJs interacted in Afg, 2003 • First time use of non-formal language on Afghan radio, 2003 • The “Arman Effect” – Altai Consulting Report 2005 • According to JWT Altai Consulting in Jan 2007, Arman FM dominated market in all major cities, 37% overall share. Next highest is 12% Wazir Akbar Khan, Kabul, Afghanistan. Phone: +93(0)799 32 10 10 Email: info@tolo.tv Web: www.mobygroup.com MOBY MEDIA GROUP
  9. 9. MOBY MEDIA GROUP ACHIEVEMENTS – TOLO AND LEMAR • First Female VJs on TV – Tolo TV 2004 • First Women’s TV program in 2005 • Hard hitting news and current affairs programs: • MPs falling asleep – news/satire • Interview with Taliban • Corruption – Former Chief Justice, police, etc •Entertainment programs – Afghan Star, Khanda Bazaar, Serials, etc Wazir Akbar Khan, Kabul, Afghanistan. Phone: +93(0)799 32 10 10 Email: info@tolo.tv Web: www.mobygroup.com MOBY MEDIA GROUP
  10. 10. MOBY MEDIA GROUP ACHIEVEMENTS – TOLO AND LEMAR …Continued •Reporting in a manner allowing people to discuss community problems openly • Round tables encouraging the free flow of ideas and views and encouraging tolerance for views of others •Freedom of speech/media issues • War crimes related issues Wazir Akbar Khan, Kabul, Afghanistan. Phone: +93(0)799 32 10 10 Email: info@tolo.tv Web: www.mobygroup.com MOBY MEDIA GROUP
  11. 11. MOBY MEDIA GROUP ACHIEVEMENTS – ARIA PRODUCTION • Largest production house for audio/video in Afghanistan • 14 hours of content produced daily • Average of 3 hours a day dubbed from various languages • Working on various local production projects including local ads and ads for international market • Video clips • Feature films - Kite Runner, Dreamworks local support Wazir Akbar Khan, Kabul, Afghanistan. Phone: +93(0)799 32 10 10 Email: info@tolo.tv Web: www.mobygroup.com MOBY MEDIA GROUP
  12. 12. MOBY MEDIA GROUP ACHIEVEMENTS – ARIA PRODUCTION • First serial in Afghanistan, The Secrets of this House • Female Director •Script writers all Afghan trained by Jonathan Lawton (script writer for Pretty Woman) •Concept by Hafiz Assefi and Atiq Rahimi •30 minutes per week •Touching on local issues like •Corruption •Family disputes •Romance •Womens issues Wazir Akbar Khan, Kabul, Afghanistan. Phone: +93(0)799 32 10 10 Email: info@tolo.tv Web: www.mobygroup.com MOBY MEDIA GROUP
  13. 13. MOBY MEDIA GROUP ACHIEVEMENTS – BARBUD • Launched in 2007 in order to promote musical artists, but primarily to give a voice to young artists including Afghan Stars • Recruited music composers and arrangers • Small studio created for professional recording of music for all types of music including traditional •3 music CDs released so far, available for sale online through iTunes, CD baby, etc and also in local shops in Afghanistan Wazir Akbar Khan, Kabul, Afghanistan. Phone: +93(0)799 32 10 10 Email: info@tolo.tv Web: www.mobygroup.com MOBY MEDIA GROUP
  14. 14. MOBY MEDIA GROUP ACHIEVEMENTS – QUQNOOS.COM • Launched in 2008 in order to provide timely news, with 5-10 articles a day in English, Dari and Pashto • accessible anywhere in the world with daily video clips as well from our other media outlets • want to be the premier news portal for all Afghanistan related matters •Many feature and opinion pieces from distinguished writers Wazir Akbar Khan, Kabul, Afghanistan. Phone: +93(0)799 32 10 10 Email: info@tolo.tv Web: www.mobygroup.com MOBY MEDIA GROUP
  15. 15. MOBY MEDIA GROUP - NEWS TEAM • Afghans as news consumers - sophisticated •Therefore, Credibility, credibility, credibility • How have we gained credibility? • using new breed of reporters and backing them • neutrality on political issues (no political aspirations for owners) • accuracy of reporting • providing news team with freedom to report, including on our own group eg. • use of experts wherever required but under our supervision •Investment and reinvestment in technology • in touch with pulse of the nation • ongoing communication with key stakeholders • achievements in other areas eg music, serials,etc Wazir Akbar Khan, Kabul, Afghanistan. Phone: +93(0)799 32 10 10 Email: info@tolo.tv Web: www.mobygroup.com MOBY MEDIA GROUP
  16. 16. MOBY MEDIA GROUP - NEWS TEAM • Have sympathies of the masses (AG incident) • Entertainment programs are important in getting viewers • Maintaining the balance for the right audience •Youth •Older • not without our threats/challenges Wazir Akbar Khan, Kabul, Afghanistan. Phone: +93(0)799 32 10 10 Email: info@tolo.tv Web: www.mobygroup.com MOBY MEDIA GROUP
  17. 17. MOBY MEDIA GROUP CHALLENGES •Human capital, expertise, electrical power, money •Market is very small, even though we have a big chunk of the market •Biggest challenge currently is political, followed by recruitment/training • Since about 2006, the government has not been working hard to protect media and journalists, and in many cases has been the cause of problems •News related pressures and challenges from Government Wazir Akbar Khan, Kabul, Afghanistan. Phone: +93(0)799 32 10 10 Email: info@tolo.tv Web: www.mobygroup.com MOBY MEDIA GROUP
  18. 18. MOBY MEDIA GROUP CHALLENGES •On 18 March 2006 four senior staff members of Tolo TV (including well known reporter Nawab Momand) were detained by NDS illegally overnight and released without charge next day, re reporting of Taliban clip •On 12 June 2006, NDS invited various members of the media where a 3 page document was presented to them signed by the head of the NDS. This was rejected by the media in its entirety. •On 18 June 2006, a modified version of the document referred to above was given to media outlets on behalf of the NDS which was unsigned, but included various restrictions including: Wazir Akbar Khan, Kabul, Afghanistan. Phone: +93(0)799 32 10 10 Email: info@tolo.tv Web: www.mobygroup.com MOBY MEDIA GROUP
  19. 19. MOBY MEDIA GROUP CHALLENGES •Media not to air reports which may create fear from terrorist organisations •Interviews with ‘terrorists’ not allowed •Terrorist incidents and stories as lead stories not allowed •Reports which will create anxiety amongst the publics not allowed •Reporting of fatwas from terrorists not allowed •“Negative” stories and reports not allowed •Reports which show the armed forces in a negative light or as weak not allowed •Reports which are against the policy of the government relating to neighbouring states not allowed •(the above document was withdrawn and explained as a ‘misunderstanding’ on the night of 18 June 2006 Presidential Office) Wazir Akbar Khan, Kabul, Afghanistan. Phone: +93(0)799 32 10 10 Email: info@tolo.tv Web: www.mobygroup.com MOBY MEDIA GROUP
  20. 20. MOBY MEDIA GROUP CHALLENGES •On 19 August 2006 on the Independence day of Afghanistan, President Karzai specifically mentioned the media and said that media has exceeded its mandate •media was called to a meeting at the Presidential Office- the President justified and defended the above document •On 22 January 2007, Tolo TV news coordinator Sharif Hassanyar was detained for talking to the Taliban. Sharif Hasanyar was released on 23 January 2007 at about 6pm without charges or any explanation. •On 17 April 2007, at 7pm, more than 50 armed police under direct orders from the Attorney General, entered Tolo TV premises and violently attacked staff of Tolo TV, arresting 3 but later releasing them. Wazir Akbar Khan, Kabul, Afghanistan. Phone: +93(0)799 32 10 10 Email: info@tolo.tv Web: www.mobygroup.com MOBY MEDIA GROUP
  21. 21. MOBY MEDIA GROUP CHALLENGES •Tolo TV staff members, were taken directly to the Attorney General’s Office and detained. They were released in 1 hour with no charges or an explanation. •Asef Nang arrested by the NDS on 1 July 2007, on the basis he translated article accusing President Karzai of spying prior to becoming president. Eventually released on 14 July 2007. Not charged with any crimes. •Kamran Mirhazar arrested by the NDS on 14 July 2007 on the basis he wrote articles on web based news site. He was released and re-arrested. He has now left the country. •On 6 October 2007, Mujahid Kakar, senior journalist and head of news department of Tolo and Lemar TV, arrested by the NDS. He was released without charge. Wazir Akbar Khan, Kabul, Afghanistan. Phone: +93(0)799 32 10 10 Email: info@tolo.tv Web: www.mobygroup.com MOBY MEDIA GROUP
  22. 22. Media Group Other examples -Indian serial bans – pushed by the Ministry of Information and Culture. -Kambakhsh – Death sentence for publishing a story allegedly blasphemous - Censoring of our content, much of it is now self censored, which may cause local Afghans to move to foreign satellite and cable channels rather than local Afghan channels -Our channels have viewers in Pakistan and Iran, and Uzbekistan. It is possible that our broadcasts are not to the liking of some of these governments. - Wazir Akbar Khan, Kabul, Afghanistan. Phone: +93(0)799 32 10 10 Email: info@tolo.tv Web: www.mobygroup.com MOBY MEDIA GROUP
  23. 23. Media Group Other examples (continued) -Most governmental actions against media carry disturbing linguistic, religious, ethnic undertones - misinformation also causing problems - examples -Elections in 2009 could be a motivating factor, although one would expect that everyone would be courting the media rather than threatening - Training/Recruitment challenges - lack of professional trainers and weak educational institutions - lack of professionalism - institutional trainers are ‘old school’ Wazir Akbar Khan, Kabul, Afghanistan. Phone: +93(0)799 32 10 10 Email: info@tolo.tv Web: www.mobygroup.com MOBY MEDIA GROUP
  24. 24. Media Group Other examples (continued) - Training/Recruitment challenges (Cont’d) - staff sometimes do not think longer term and move jobs for only marginal pay rise - training overseas complicated by visa issues, eg all US training courses require staff to go to Pakistan for their visas despite 120m USD spent on US Embassy in Afg, same for UK, France, etc. - English language skills not developed enough to take advantage of international courses Zaid Mohseni zaid.mohseni@tolo.tv Wazir Akbar Khan, Kabul, Afghanistan. Phone: +93(0)799 32 10 10 Email: info@tolo.tv Web: www.mobygroup.com MOBY MEDIA GROUP

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