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Despite Taliban's Censorship, VOA Continues Broadcasting to Millions in Afghanistan

Farkhunda Paimani and Waheed Faizi of VOA's Afghan service presenting during the television show, "30 Minutes."
Farkhunda Paimani and Waheed Faizi of VOA's Afghan service presenting during the television show, "30 Minutes."

Voice of America remains one of the leading sources of uncensored news and information in Afghanistan, despite the Taliban’s crackdown on its platforms in the past two years.

VOA is filling a void in Afghanistan where local media outlets can no longer report independently and hold those in power accountable, as the free media landscape has shrunk under the Taliban. To uphold its mission of reporting the truth globally to audiences with limited access to free media, VOA is determined to broadcast fair and balanced news and information to Afghanistan.

“Voice of America commends its journalists for their commitment to continue serving its audience in Afghanistan despite these challenges,” said VOA Acting Director Yolanda López. “VOA remains committed to its mission of delivering news about Afghanistan, America and the world to audiences who need it most in the face of any obstacle.”

In the past two years, the Taliban ordered local media affiliates in Afghanistan to stop airing VOA programming, took over the FM and medium wave (AM) transmitters and blocked VOA Pashto and Dari websites in the country. VOA has been proactive throughout the Taliban’s restrictions on VOA's various platforms and has put in place alternative means to ensure continuity of operation in Afghanistan. VOA launched a 24/7 direct-to-home satellite channel for Afghanistan, shifted its radio broadcasts to alternative AM and SW transmitters from outside Afghanistan and promoted the use of its circumvention tools in the country. These alternative means have allowed VOA to directly reach audiences in Afghanistan while holding Taliban accountable.

For digital distribution, VOA uses circumvention tools in-country to reach its audience. Through these circumvention tools and alternative means, VOA continues to broadcast news directly to audiences in Afghanistan while holding the Taliban accountable.

During this time, VOA Afghan Chief Hasib Danish Alikozai aggressively promoted these new channels on air. “We have stood by the Afghan people as they stand up for their rights. We will continue to provide them with platforms to raise their voices. Despite the Taliban’s restrictions on us, we are still serving millions of Afghans through radio, satellite and digital.”

According to a 2022 survey, VOA has a measured weekly reach of nearly 6 out of 10 adults with mobile phones in Afghanistan, and certainly more that were not able to be measured by a face-to-face survey after the Taliban takeover. Since the fall of Kabul in August 2021, VOA Afghanistan has garnered 1.7 billion video views across digital platforms – which include Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and VOA Pashto and Dari websites – 181 million engagements across social media platforms – namely Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – and 28 million web article views on VOA’s websites.

As the free media landscape continues to erode in Afghanistan, VOA is committed to providing fair and balanced news and information to its audiences countrywide.