CHALLENGE Independent media is only 10 years old in Afghanistan, and in this short-time has gained critical support from local communities. Slower to develop in Afghanistan is the local commercial economy that is needed to provide advertising revenue for a sustainable and vibrant media sector. “The local business sector does not yet see the value of spending money on advertising,” says Internews media adviser, Abdul Wahed Hashimi, who helped establish some of Afghanistan’s first local radio stations. Local radio stations run very low-cost operations, often using volunteers to produce content. Over the years local businesses have been educated about the benefits that come from local advertising.
Radio Soley Paygham live studio discussion
INITIATIVE USAID has supported the growth of independent media in Afghanistan since 2002, helping to establish a robust and energetic media sector. This has resulted in the creation of a network of 47 provincial stations, including Radio Soley Paygham (“Peace Message”), based in the eastern town of Khost. Soley Paygham produces a variety of local programs, making it one of the most popular local media outlets. This in turn has enabled the station to secure advertising income from up to 15 local businesses. In an effort to expand this income, the station produces engaging advertisements which appeal to the local audience. It broadcasts external productions as well, such as the popular national magazine program, Salam Watandar, so it also earns a share of revenue from Salam Watandar’s national advertisers.
RESULTS Soley Paygham’s popularity has encouraged competition among local businessmen to have their advertisements heard. The income generated from local advertisers is small compared with advertising revenue national broadcasters can secure, but the pool of advertisers has grown in the past few years to now include schools, clinics and local businesses. Advertising has sharpened competition among companies, resulting in lower prices for the consumer and better quality products. Local businessmen have apparently learned the value of advertising. Radio Soley Paygham is an example of how USAID funds can be used to improve living standards and the local economy in eastern Afghanistan.
Local Radio Starts to Pay Its Way