News / Asia

Afghanistan Cracks Down on Advertising in Favor of US Troops

Afghan security forces arrive on scene of restaurant attack, Kabul, Jan. 17, 2014.
Afghan security forces arrive on scene of restaurant attack, Kabul, Jan. 17, 2014.
Reuters
Afghanistan's government, increasingly at odds with Washington, is cracking down on advertisements that promote keeping U.S. troops in the country after 2014 and has already shut down a spot aired by the country's most widely watched broadcasters.
 
The commercials - some funded by a U.S. organization - have drawn official criticism because they urge President Hamid Karzai to abandon his refusal to sign a security pact with the United States that would enable the troops to stay.
 
Broadcasters, which ran the spots for several weeks, came under investigation on grounds that their source of funding was unclear. All have pulled the advertisements off the air.
 
“We have launched an investigation into broadcasters to find out where they receive money from for such advertisements,” Basir Azizi, a spokesman for the attorney general, told Reuters on Wednesday.
 
Despite Karzai's refusal to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) unless several conditions were met, many Afghans are uncertain the army is able to fend off Taliban insurgents without help from the NATO-led ISAF coalition of troops.
 
The commercials often include interviews with rank-and-file Afghans calling on Karzai to sign the accord immediately.
 
In one spot, the head of a cultural association tells the president: “You should accept the people's demand and sign this as soon as possible.”
 
The crackdown is the latest symptom of Karzai's hostility to Washington. Last week, he cited a deadly attack on a restaurant to accuse the United States of doing too little to fight terrorism.
 
Afghanistan's media watchdog said pressure on broadcasters was hurting attempts to establish the industry's independence.
 
“Such actions by the government are a clear attempt to limit freedom of speech and put at risk advances in the media industry,” Mujib Khelwatgar, director general of NAI media watchdog, told Reuters.
 
Government figures show that more than 50 private television stations, 150 radio broadcasters and about 1,000 newspapers have sprung up since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001.
 
Broadcasters were aware the spots were funded by ISAF or related groups, but saw “public service” advertising as a source of revenue.
 
Afghanistan's most popular channel, Tolo TV, said the spots were provided by a company called Ads Village, whose officials acknowledge the funds came from ISAF or U.S. state aid agency USAID.
 
“All adverts are treated with similar terms and conditions, whether it is on BSA or a brand of mineral water,” Massood Sanjar, Tolo TV's channel manager, told Reuters.
 
The station, he said, was paid $700-$1,000 a minute to air the spots several times over a 24 hour period.
 
The ISAF declined to indicate how much it spends on advertising, saying: “Public information released... is intended to inform and educate the public on the mission and operations of ISAF and our Afghan National Security Forces partners.”

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Christmas Gains Popularity in Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid