Television in Afghanistan

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This article details Television in Afghanistan.


Television was first tested in 1974 and introduced to the public in September 1977, when state-owned Radio Television Afghanistan established the channel RTA TV. After the completion of feasibility study under grant aid from Japan, construction work of the studio and transmitter buildings were finished by August 1978. During the 1980s, many Soviet programs were airing such as the children's show Nu, pogodi!.

During the 1992-96 Afghan Civil War, the television station in Kabul was severely damaged, including the large satellite dish on top which had one half blown off.[1] Television was banned by the Taliban, which controlled almost all of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, deeming it un-Islamic and a "source for moral corruption". They would often smash or publicly hang TV sets. It became a crime to sell televisions, satellite dishes, VCRs, VCD players or any other such entertainment devices. Anyone owning or using these faced prosecution and penalty. Some people took the risk of secretly watching films and videos in their homes, as it remained the only form of entertainment.[2] The public radio station however remained on air to broadcast Quranic content.

Studio of TOLOnews in Kabul, Afghanistan

At the time, the north-eastern region controlled by the rival Northern Alliance had access to television. In Badakhshan Province, a television station financed by the Northern Alliance broadcast news and movies to approximately 5,000 locals in the city of Fayzabad. Another station was broadcast from Charikar, also in Northern Alliance territory, about 50 km north of Kabul.[3]

After the toppling of the Taliban regime, television resumed in Kabul on November 18, 2001. The first programme was a broadcast of music and news, co-presented by two women. The first lines were: "Greetings, viewers, we hope you are all well! We're glad to have destroyed terrorism and the Taleban and to be able to present this programme to you."[4] The stations and transmitters were in poor condition. The new administration of Hamid Karzai with the help of international donors started rebuilding the infrastructure. Within a few years, a number of private Afghan television stations began airing.

As of 2016, Afghanistan has around 150 radio stations, over 50 private television stations, and 22 state-owned provincial channels, including RTA TV.[5][6]

Television ownership and viewership[edit]

According to a 2016 survey, ownership of television is concentrated in urban areas, where electricity is more dependable and corresponds to increased household income. The central region (Kabul) exhibits the highest TV ownership, with 53.3% of households having one TV set, followed closely by the East and South West regions. Nearly two-thirds of Afghans (64.5%) report watching TV programs. TOLO is the most watched network in Afghanistan, with 36.3% of viewing respondents, followed by Ariana Television Network (9.6%), Shamshad TV (8.9%), and Lemar (8.2%).[7]

Special visit of foreign officials at Shamshad TV studio (2010)
TV viewership as per The Asia Foundation Report of 'A Survey of the Afghan People in 2016' [8]
Base: Watches TV most often 7,494 respondents
Ariana Television Network 10%
Ariana News  %
Shamshad TV 9%
Lemar HD 8%
Khurshid TV 7%
Afghanistan National Television (RTA) 5%
1TV HD 4%
TOLOnews HD 3%
Aina TV 2%
Tamaddon TV 7%
Arezo TV 2%
Zhwandoon TV 7%
Rah-e-farda TV  %
Hewad TV 7%
Watan-HD TV  %
Eslah TV (Herat)  %
Faryad TV (Herat)  %
Mashal TV  %
Maihan TV (Herat)  %
Maiwand TV  %
Negaah TV  %
Noor TV  %
Noorin TV  %
Peyam watan TV  %
Taraqi TV HD (Herat)  %
Zendagi TV  %
Asia TV  %
Asr TV (Herat)  %
Afghan TV  %
Afghan Business TV  %
Aftab TV HD  %


Although satellite and internet services are on the rise, most people in Afghanistan still watch television through traditional analog terrestrial signals using indoor antennas.

In January 2013, Afghanistan's Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MCIT) held a meeting with TV broadcasters on plans to switch from analogue to digital transmission systems. In August 2014, Afghanistan's digital TV system was officially inaugurated by then vice president of Afghanistan Karim Khalili and MCIT Minister Amirzai Sangin. The ceremony was held in the Kabul Serena Hotel.[9] It was launched in 2015 called Oqaab, using the DVB-T2 standard.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "New era for Afghan television". 10 February 2018. Archived from the original on 4 July 2004 – via 
  2. ^ "BBC News - South Asia - Taleban telly ban". Archived from the original on 2002-12-26. 
  3. ^ "BBC News - South Asia - TV beatsTaleban telly-ban". 
  4. ^ "Afghan TV back on air". 18 November 2001. Archived from the original on 18 December 2002 – via 
  5. ^ "Afghanistan". The World Factbook. 2015. Archived from the original on 2017-09-20. Retrieved 2017-05-16. 
  6. ^ "ISAF Spokesman Discusses Progress in Afghanistan". NATO. July 25, 2011. Archived from the original on July 25, 2011. Retrieved December 6, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Afghanistan in 2016: A Survey of the Afghan People - The Asia Foundation". Archived from the original on 2017-04-01. 
  8. ^ "Survey of the Afghan People" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-09-07. Retrieved 2017-05-11. 
  9. ^ "Afghanistan officially launches digital TV broadcasting - Digital TV News". Digital TV News. Archived from the original on 2018-01-05.