Iranian media influencing Nimroz culture

ZARANJ (Pajhwok): Residents of Nimroz say the media situation in the southwestern province is of grave concern, paving the way for Iranian news outlets to influence the local culture.
There are currently no daily newspapers in the province, whose residents at times find themselves in a vacuum -- as far as current affairs and coverage of daily happenings are concerned.
Arman and Nawa, private radio stations, air programmes in the province and news bulletins from their offices in the central capital Kabul.
Other private radiostations in the province, like Dost, Sistan and Barak, only broadcast music and entertainment programmes. Their focus on news and current affairs is almost non-existent.
The local TV and ‘Nimroz’ publication only promote government policies.Residents complain media outlets in the province are not reflective of their situation.
This state of affairs has left people frustrated with the local media, having no choice but to turn towards the Iranian media that is easily accessible for most of them.
Attaullah, resident of Charburjak district, laments: “Unfortunately, there is no TV, Radio or newspaper in our district. We have no option but to listen to Iranian media only.”
On the one hand, he says, this makes people less aware of the newsy events in the province. On the other hand, the Iranian media would have a lot of impact on local families and their culture.
Nimroz shares a border with Iran and due to strong antenna that the Iranian TV channels have, five of them are watched in the province. The Iranian currency, toman, is widely used by residents of Nimroz, Farah and Herat provinces.
Najibullah, a culturist in Nimroz, claims the Iranian media is only focused programmes regarding their own country, people and culture.This has an obvious effects on the Afghan culture.
Due to paucity of funds, the print media are not functioning anymore and radiostations are focused on business and advertisements. To attract ads, they air entertainment programmes. When it came to enriching local culture the role of media in Nimroz was close to zero, he added.
Local residents are of the opinion that media should play a constructive role in reflecting people’s grievances, raising awareness, highlightingpublic problems and making officials pay attention to resolving them.
Mahmood, a young resident of the province, complains: “We don’t have news about our province. There are only formal functions that the government holds and official media broadcast.”
He suggests declarations of the media outlets that do not reflect people’s problems should be withdrawn.
In recent years weekly and monthly publications such as “Sada-e-Nimroz,” “Sitara-e-Sistan,” “Qalamwa Bayan,” “Hangin,” “Ghotai,” and “Nida-e-Jawan” have been shut due to lack of funds.
Bashir Ahmad, who was in charge of “Qalamwa Bayan”,says: “We couldn’t afford the publication of our monthly paper and had no choice but to close it.” Its income was not enough and no organisation helped it financially.
“Sitara-e-Sistan” monthly and “Ghwaledalai” magazine that focused on women’s issues have also stopped functioning due to financial hardship.
Sohaila, an employee of the women’s department in the province, says the periodicals highlighted women’s problems.“Women and girls in Nimroz face rampant violence and it was these publications that did their part in preventing it,” she continues.
Another staffer of the information and culture department, who did not wish to be named, acknowledges: “Apart from some local channels, there is nothing else in Nimroz. People have no access to news.”
He adds: “At the moment I read Daily Kherad that comes from Kabul. It was published last month and I got hold of it now. It is a daily and I should have read this a month back.”
Amanullah Hatef, information and culture department’s acting head, confirms print media has a lot of difficulties in the province due to financial challenges.
Earlier, media activists in Faryab and Bamyan also complained the print media in their provinces faced the same hardships.
Lack of government support, funding sources and printing press are the main challenges. Following the fall of the Taliban regime, more than 1,400 media organisations started functioning in the country. But few of them are alive today.

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