Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA)
The history of Afghan television is a complex one, shaped by the country's political and social turmoil over the years. The first television broadcast in Afghanistan was in the mid-1970s when the government-run Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA) was established. The RTA was the only television station in the country and like neighboring Pakistan's PTV (Pakistan Television) and India's DD (Door Darshan), it was used as a tool for propaganda to promote state's ideology and policies. Its earlier programming was heavily censored and controlled by the government, and the themes often focused on the desolate conditions of the working class and the poor, along with their struggles against the traditional feudal system.
In the late 1970s, a Communist government came to power in Afghanistan, and the state-controlled RTA began to produce more propaganda films that promoted state's ideology and narratives. These films were used as a tool of propaganda to show how the new government was working to improve the lives of the Afghan people. The programming was mainly in Pashto, Dari, and Uzbek languages.
During the 1980s and 1990s, the Afghan television industry experienced a significant decline due to the ongoing civil war. Many Afghan television stations were destroyed, and many Afghan television professionals were also forced to flee the country.
After the fall of the Communist government in 1992 and the subsequent civil war, RTA also went through a period of decline, and its programming and operations were affected by the ongoing conflict in the country. However, with the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, the Afghan television industry began to recover, and new television stations were established.
RTA is now under the authority of the Ministry of Information and Culture in Afghanistan. It broadcasts in Dari and Pashto languages, the two official languages of Afghanistan, and it is available on terrestrial, satellite, and online platforms.
Afghanistan's top private TV networks are Tolo TV and Ariana TV. Afghanistan's first private TV station, Tolo TV, began in 2004, and shortly thereafter in 2005, Ariana TV went live with its broadcasts. Both networks are the most-watched TV networks in the country, offering news, entertainment, drama, and sports and have earned several journalism honors for their daring and independent reporting.
The rise of private television stations has also been accompanied by a growth in viewership, with many Afghans now having access to television in their homes. Today, television remains an important source of information and entertainment for many Afghans and continues to play a vital role in shaping public opinion and also shaping the country's cultural and political landscape. Currently, there are several Afghan television channels broadcasting in Dari and Pashto, including:
Pashto 1 TV
Pashto Entertainment TV
Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS) TV
These channels provide a range of programming that includes news, entertainment, dramas, sports, and cultural programs. They are widely watched in Afghanistan and have a significant impact on society, promoting freedom of speech and providing a platform for a wide range of voices and perspectives. It's worth noting that the private media sector in Afghanistan has grown significantly over the past two decades, providing a platform for diverse voices and perspectives, promoting freedom of speech, and challenging the traditional censorship and control of the state-run media.
With the rise of the internet in the 21st century, Afghan media creators have started to use digital platforms to create and disseminate their work, bypassing traditional censorship and distribution barriers. The rise of the internet has also allowed for greater access to global media and increased representation of marginalized communities, including women and minorities.
Today the most popular youtube channels in Afghanistan as of January 2023 are:
In conclusion, Afghanistan's television history is distinguished by a fight for freedom of speech and information, the impact of politics and war on the industry, and the rise of private actors that introduced range and a different viewpoint on society.