Afghanistan's remote mainly-Pashtun province of Paktika is home to a new independent radio station set up by Internews. On June 22 with almost 400 people in attendance, the provincial governor of Paktika, Gulam Mangal, officially opened Radio Voice of Paktika. In a speech broadcast live on the radio, the governor congratulated the community, encouraging citizens to let their voices be heard through the new station.
The station is the first independent broadcast media outlet in the southeastern province and offers an outlet for diverse opinions in a region that has seen ongoing attacks by renegade Taliban and their sympathizers. Representatives from several ministries and media development organizations were in attendance.
Established by Internews Network with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development's Office of Transition Initiatives, the station began broadcasting April 4. Radio Voice of Paktika has a potential audience of almost 200,000 with a 45 meter mast, one of the tallest of any FM station in Afghanistan. The station broadcasts nine hours a day with both in-house programming and material from the daily news and entertainment program, Salaam Watandar, produced by Internews.
Residents now have access to a local source of news, vital in preparation for Afghanistan's parliamentary elections this year. The station has been working closely with the local Joint Electoral Management Board office to develop programming initiatives educating listeners about the elections, including a program featuring interviews with local candidates.
The station was originally based inside the governor's compound in Sharan, but has since moved into its own building, donated by the Provincial Reconstruction Team, which also has space for other cultural and media organizations.
To ensure the long-term sustainability of the station, Internews is helping to raise funds from advertising contracts and the station has secured a contract with Media Support Solutions to play educational programming.
Over the past two years, Internews has set up and supported 29 independent radio stations. The network now has an estimated signal reach of about 10 million people.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Sanjar Qiam, Internews Afghanistan Radio Network Coordinator