The Taliban has ordered media outlets to renew their licenses in the eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan and warned that failure to do so could result in legal action.
The Taliban’s provincial officials said the licenses of 15 private media outlets, including TV and Radio stations, have expired and their taxes have not been paid.
The letter urged Sharq Radio Television; Nargis, Hamishah Bahar, Love, Islah Voice, Mazal, Khurshid, Zayoon, Dost, Shamshad, Spin Ghar, Maram, Nun and Hood Radio stations; and Bahar Television, to pay their outstanding taxes and renew their licenses.
Officials from some private media outlets said they need to renew their licenses but are not able to afford the high taxes imposed on them by the Taliban.
Aziz Ahmad Bahar, head of a private media outlet in Nangarhar, said that the Taliban’s caretaker government has increased pressure on the media, instead of supporting the sector. He said media outlets are on the verge of bankruptcy.
“We urge the Taliban to show affability with us. Closing the media is not helpful. How can I renew the license and pay taxes due as the media is facing a severe economic crisis,” Bahar said.
Sahil, head of another media outlet, called on the Taliban to support Afghan media and reduce taxes as media owners cannot afford to pay the high fees.
“The Taliban has imposed taxes on radio stations in all provinces without any distinction, this is unfair. The current government should reduce taxes. It is not a solution to put pressure here and threaten to shut down the radio station,” Sahil said.
Shafiqullah Rahmani, head of the media union in Nangarhar, said that many media outlets’ licenses have expired and suggested the Taliban collect taxes in installments.
“We are also trying to operate legally. It is also their (Taliban) right to send the letter, but at the moment, we request that the taxes be divided into installments so that we can afford to pay,” Rahmani said.
Since the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, media outlets have faced increasing financial challenges and hundreds of media companies have been forced to close down while countless others have had to lay off staff.
According to reports, more than 20 private media outlets used to operate in Nangarhar during the former Republic government, but currently the 15 still operating are on the verge of closing down.
Media officials, however, stated that the media outlets were not able to pay the salaries of their employees and that “we need support.”
Meanwhile, many Afghan media outlets and journalists in western Herat also raised concerns this week over financial challenges and the lack of access to information that they are facing in the province.
They added that financial difficulties have forced private media companies to let go of staff, which employees say is having a negative impact on the production quality of programs.
Salim Sadid, head of a local media outlet in Herat, said: “The media cannot work as it was in the past and this has caused the performance of the media to weaken. There are some areas where media coverage is less.”
Currently, around 30 media outlets are operating in Herat province – all of which are in dire need of financial support to continue operations.