Taliban’s plan to finance local media met with mixed reaction

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A number of media supporting organizations on Monday said they are concerned that the proposed plan by the Taliban to allocate funding to media outlets would affect the local media’s independence.

The Taliban’s information and culture minister Khairullah Khairkhwah said at a meeting with journalists and owners of media outlets in Ghazni province on Saturday, May 7, that they are working on a plan to allocate a budget for media outlets in the country.

“The plan by the ministry of information and culture is welcomed by Nai and can be a good step for supporting media outlets under circumstances that they face the risk of collapse… We hope that the plan is implemented based on journalistic norms and the support provided or the budget provided should be based on the types of media and their activities,” said Zarif Karimi, head of Nai, an organization supporting open media in Afghanistan.

A number of journalists said that allocating a budget to the media would enable media outlets to stay afloat but it could have serious implications in terms of freedom of speech.

“It can be a good help under current circumstances and it can create jobs as well,” said a journalist in Kabul.

“Financial support is something which is needed by media outlets in the country,” said another journalist in Kabul.

Reacting to remarks by the Taliban’s information and culture minister, Afghanistan Journalists Center told Amu that by taking this step, the Taliban wants to control local media outlets.

“This is against existing laws in Afghanistan and it shows that Taliban is trying to monopolize Afghanistan’s media to spread its extremist ideology,” said Sumaya Walizada, a media officer at the center.

Media outlets, journalists and watchdog organizations have said that access to information has been limited and media outlets have been “forced” to self-censorship under Taliban rule in Afghanistan over the past 20 months.