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RFE/RL’s Afghan Service: Radio Azadi

RFE/RL's Radio Azadi is an online pioneer and media leader in Afghanistan, reaching 36 percent of the adult audience nationally on radio, SMS, and the internet.

Fast Facts

  • Languages: Pashto, Dari
  • Coverage: 12 hours daily (7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Kabul time)
  • Established: 1985-1993, resumed 2002
  • Distribution: Radio (FM, AM, SW, satellite), website, mobile, social, YouTube
  • Staff: 31 in Prague, 46 in Kabul, 17 stringers in Afghanistan and one in Pakistan

Media Environment

  • Freedom House Freedom of the Press Ranking, 2017: Partly Free (130/198).
  • Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index, 2018: 118/180
  • Journalists in Afghanistan are under constant threat of violence and intimidation from warlords, religious leaders, the Taliban, and other extremist groups because of their reporting, and often risk open conflict and attack while on assignment.

Audience

  • In 2017, Radio Azadi’s popular Dari Facebook page had 2.3 million followers and exceeded 34.8 million engaged users. Its Pashto Facebook page had over 1.2 million followers with over 24 million engaged users. The service’s videos were viewed more than 63 million times on the Dari fan page, and nearly 30 million times on the Pashto page.
  • The Afghan Service’s websites in Dari and Pashto attracted more than 12.6 million visits and over 22.4 million page views in 2017.
  • Radio Azadi’s SMS news alerts reach over 225,000 subscribers four times a day.

Impact

  • Radio Azadi is one of the most popular and trusted media outlets in Afghanistan, reporting on domestic and regional politics, extremism, corruption, warlordism, gender issues, human rights, and other topics that are under-reported or misreported by other media.
  • It is a leader in online video journalism, documenting major events in the lives of the country’s women, youth, and internally displaced people.
  • Programs like New Thoughts, Female Leaders, and Fresh Air appeal to the country’s near-majority youth population and are a unique showcase for its women leaders.
  • Radio Azadi’s call-in shows and roundtables promote a culture of discussion and debate on political, economic and social issues. The noted call-in program, In Search of Loved Ones, has helped reunite families who have suffered dislocation because of violence and war.
  • Radio Azadi regularly produces stories that have directly affected people’s lives. Stories profiling a young boy who labored to send his sisters to school, a woman beaten to death over religious mores, and a family whose nine children were enslaved to repay their father’s debt have prompted societal attention, and even judicial action and public donations of support.

Awards

  • Radio Azadi receives numerous letters of appreciation from political and tribal leaders for its contributions to democracy, human rights and peace in Afghanistan. Journalist Malali Bashir won a presidential award in 2017, and has been recognized in Afghanistan as a leading voice on Twitter.

Updated: April 2018

Facts & Stats about Afghanistan

  • Population: 34.66 million (World Bank estimate, 2016)
  • Most Common Languages: Dari, Pashto, Uzbek, Turkmen, Balochi
  • Press Freedom Index (Freedom House): Partly Free, ranked 60th out of 100 (2017)
  • Press Freedom Index (RSF): 118 out of 180 (2018)
  • Corruption Index (Transparency Int.): 169 out of 176 (2017)
  • Global Peace Index (IES): 162 out of 163 (2018)
  • Human Rights Watch: Report on Afghanistan (2017)
  • Amnesty International: Afghanistan Report (2017/2018)​

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