Bamyan residents seek more radio stations
BAMYAN CITY (PAN): As the development of the media sector in post-Taliban Afghanistan hits headlines, residents of central Bamyan province complain they have only one radio station that covers issues here.
The sole station, Radio Bamyan, was established in 2004 with assistance from the Internews, a US-based media support group. Radio Bamyan primarily covers the central city. The radio broadcasts news and reports for about an hour in the morning, and as much time in the evening.
While asking for establishment more radio stations, the people called for increasing of radio broadcast time and coverage of issues, including education, health, agriculture and development.
Mohammad Ismail Zaki, head of civil society and human rights, told Pajhwok Afghan News that citizens' right to information could be realised with the creation of more radio stations, TV channels and other media outlets.
"Radio, television and mass media organisations are a major requirement of society. We call on the government to pay more attention and ensure that the Radio and Television of Afghanistan (RTA) cover all districts of the province," he added.
Niamatullah, a shopkeeper in the city, accused Radio Bamiyan of failing to air educational programmes; it only airs music and programmes of Radio Watandar. "We have no access to water, power and schools. We want reporters to go to remote districts and inform officials of our problems."
Meanwhile farmers requested the radio stations to cover programs about agriculture, and other traditional programs.
Mohammad Yaqub, a farmer, said they wanted Radio Afghanistan to focus on local issues such as agricultural and reconstruction. He lashed out at Radio Bamiyan for too much concentration on music.
Women asked for programmes on traditions, health and other social issues. Resident Farida said there were many radio stations in other parts of the country. Unfortunately, she added, Bamiyan had one station that could not highlight women's problems.
Ali Irfan, Radio Bamyan manager, said they aired agricultural, educational, and music programmes for 12 hours a day.
Government departments faced a host of problems due to lack of mass media outlets, said Haji Mirzai, the Waras district chief. Local authorities were often blamed for their inability to promote public awareness, he added.
Information Director Mohammad Ibrahim Akbari said lack of radio stations was a major problem of citizens. He hoped the Ministry of Information and Cultural would take action to expand media coverage and radio stations. Otherwise, the department could not fix the problem.
"We appreciate if private media want to launch activity in the province. The Bamyan Information and Culture Department is ready to back all such projects," he concluded.
Another radio station, Paiwand, would soon go on air in the city. The station is supported by the US embassy to promote gender equality in Afghanistan.
Mohammad Akbar Danish, head of the radio station, said they had started trial broadcasts and formal programmes would be aired for12 hours a day in the near future.
However, Ministry of Information and Culture officials say some radio stations have been closed due to differences between radio station officials and the ministry.