One day after the ruling Taliban banned Voice of America broadcasts from terrestrial television, the U.S. government-funded independent news agency has officially launched a 24/7 direct-to-home satellite-delivered television channel for Afghanistan. The channel carries uncensored news and information in both the Pashto and Dari languages of the country. VOA’s programs were ordered off affiliated television stations in Afghanistan effective Sunday, March 27, as part of a broad ban on content regarded as undermining Taliban policies, including prohibiting women from anchoring newscasts with men.
VOA’s new TV stream, identified as “VOA Afghanistan,” is on the Yahsat Y-1A satellite (52.2 degrees East), Transponder 12 (downlink frequency 11.938 GHz), Channel 469. The Yahsat satellite is Afghanistan's most popular platform, ensuring the Afghan audience will have access to VOA’s programming despite the Taliban censorship.
"Afghanistan is now one of the most repressive media markets in the world," said Acting VOA Director Yolanda López. "Despite the Taliban’s attempt to end press freedom, VOA News stands by its Afghan audience with credible and authoritative news and information.”
The new VOA Afghanistan satellite stream includes its popular “TV Ashna” newscasts, its women’s show “Etesal,” viewer call-in programming, and programming from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Azadi radio. Additional programming is planned, including entertainment shows to fill a void in Afghanistan, where local channels cannot air music programs.
The VOA satellite channel has been in development since August, before the fall of Afghanistan’s elected government. The channel is also accessible on YouTube and on VOA’s Pashto and Dari language websites.