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Transformation of the media system of Afghanistan in the context of the formation of statehood

Vostrikova Anna Olegovna

Graduate student, Department of International Journalism, St. Petersburg State University

199034, Russia, Saint Petersburg, Universitetskaya str., 7/9

asya-vostrikova@mail.ru
Nikonov Sergey Borisovich

ORCID: 0000-0002-8340-1541

Doctor of Politics

Professor of the Department of International Journalism, St. Petersburg State University

199034, Russia, Saint Petersburg, Universitetskaya str., 7/9, 707

NikonovS@mail.ru
Other publications by this author
 

 
Shafir Timur Vladimirovich

Lecturer at the Department of Communication Technologies, Moscow State Linguistic University

38 Ostozhenka str., Moscow, 119034, Russia

tim.shafir@yandex.ru
Other publications by this author
 

 
Baichik Anna Vitalievna

ORCID: 0000-0003-0527-5858

Doctor of Politics

Professor, Department of International Journalism, St. Petersburg State University

199034, Russia, Saint Petersburg, Universitetskaya str., 7/9

annabaichik@gmail.com
Other publications by this author
 

 

DOI:

10.25136/2409-8698.2024.4.70290

EDN:

VZCDOK

Received:

26-03-2024


Published:

02-04-2024


Abstract: The object of the study is the media of Afghanistan. The subject of the study is the genesis of methods for regulating the media system in Afghanistan. The article pays special attention to the formation of the media system of the modern period, which the authors have been defining since the end of 2021. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the media system of Afghanistan has been formed under the influence of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF, acted in accordance with resolution No. 1386[39] The UN Security Council of December 20, 2001) and the desire to create a liberal democratic state in the understanding of the ISAF leadership. Freedom of speech, expression and the media, which were achieved during this period, has been under the control of the Interim Government of Afghanistan since August 2021. This article defines the methods used by the current government of Afghanistan to regulate the media system. The main method of research is the content analysis of documents and information on the practice of law enforcement, compliance with current legislation. Naturally, he could not be divorced from the method of systematization of information - the study of information objects. For the first time in the scientific literature, an empirical study is presented, which represents important material on the history of the media system of Afghanistan, its current state, and the analysis of legislative changes. The study seems to be significant and expands knowledge about the media in this region. For 20 years, the media system of Afghanistan has been formed under the influence of an international coalition led by the United States, which tried to create a liberal democratic state. It was based on a compromise of Western "democratic" and Islamic values, more pluralistic and free than before and after this period. In August 2021, another political force came to power, forming a state based on other principles, which began to exercise control over all spheres, including the media, taking Sharia norms as a basis. One of the conclusions of the study was the strengthening of the traditional identity of the state by the new political power, which was "shaken" by Western reforms. After coming to power, the interim Government of Afghanistan repealed the 2004 Constitution and the 2009 Media Law. The Law on Access to Information in 2019 has not been officially repealed, but it is not respected in the country. Thus, the transformation of the state's media system has begun in the country.


Keywords:

Afghanistan media system, journalism, Afghan media, Afghanistan, international journalism, media, political management, media capture, Voice of Sharia, mediacracy

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.

Introduction to the problem

Based on media information, after the organized "Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb" (Recognized as a terrorist organization on the basis of the Decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, dated 11/13/2008 No. GKPI 08-1956, entered into force on 11/27/2008) (hereinafter AK) terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001 and the refusal of the leaders of the Taliban Movement (Recognized as a terrorist organization on the basis of the Decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, dated 02/14/2003 No. GKPI 03-116, entered into force on 03/04/2003) (hereinafter referred to as DT) to extradite terrorists to AK, the United States and Great Britain launched the military operation Enduring Freedom. The operation was not approved by the UN Security Council. The United States and Great Britain only notified the UN Security Council about the start of military operations in Afghanistan, qualifying them "as the exercise of the right to individual and collective self-defense in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter" (Military Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. RIA Novosti 01:36 07.10.2021 (updated: 07:30 07.10.2021) https://ria.ru/20211007/afganistan-1753135767.html (Accessed 25.01.2024).

In 2001-2021, a media system based on a compromise of Western democratic and Islamic values was formed under the auspices of ISAF, which is more pluralistic and free than before and after this period. The legal recognition of freedom of speech, expression and the media has been postulated as one of the greatest achievements of the Afghan Government. Thanks to the political and financial participation of the Western coalition, a media system with legal guarantees for journalists was formed in the country. In August 2021, a DT with conservative views on information freedom came to power in Afghanistan. The interim Government of Afghanistan was created, whose representatives are not included in the sanctions list of persons who are terrorists, and contact with whom is not prohibited. It is with them that the Russian Foreign Ministry is currently working. According to the ministry, the terms "Taliban Movement" and "Taliban Movement" essentially mean the same thing. At the same time, from a lexical point of view, the "Taliban Movement" is a more correct name, therefore it is used in the work (Answers by the official representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, M.V. Zakharova, to questions from the media in connection with the meeting on May 28 in Moscow of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Sergey Lavrov, with a delegation of the Taliban Movement "on the sidelines" of a solemn meeting dedicated to 100th anniversary of the establishment of Russian-Afghan diplomatic relations 05.06.2019 17:21 https://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/news/1462820 / (Accessed 25.01.2024). DT has begun work on changing the media system, setting its own rules aimed at destroying the "pro-Western" media system. It is important to emphasize that the Russian Foreign Ministry, noting the legal peculiarity of the territorial state of Afghanistan in 2000, drew attention to the fact that "the Islamic Emirate proclaimed by the Taliban is officially recognized by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates" (On the situation in Afghanistan 07/19/2000 23:57 https://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/international_safety/1639354 / (Accessed 25.01.2024). At that time, the DT controlled 80% of the territory of modern Afghanistan. Although the Constitution and the law on the media of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan are still being developed, during the previous government of the DT (1996-2001), television was abolished, and the only radio station, The Voice of Sharia, fundamentally dispensed with female announcers. This makes us worry about the future of Afghanistan's media system.

The vast majority of the Afghan media is already under the strict control of the DT, trying to adapt to new conditions and act within the framework of new requirements, which indicates a fundamental change in the media system. International and foreign media outlets that previously worked in the country are forced to conduct their activities from abroad, receive information from sources that risk persecution, and use only social networks and online platforms to spread news. Now the media system that has been forming in Afghanistan over the past 20 years can be completely "captured" and, as a result, destroyed in the understanding of researchers of the concept of media capture.

There has been no systematic study of the strategy of "seizing" the DT media after coming to power in August 2021. In 2015, J. Relly and M. Sanger from the University of Arizona found that the media was being "hijacked" by the government, politicians, DT, rebels, mafia, foreign governments and sponsors. Their research only gives an idea of the actors in this process (Relly, J. E., & Zanger, M. (2017). The enigma of news media development with multi-pronged capture: The Afghanistan case. Journalism, 18(10), 1233-1255. https://doi.org/10.1177/1464884916670933). It has also lost its relevance, since the role and activities of most of the subjects described in it have changed after the change of power, and some of them have completely ceased to exist within the media system of Afghanistan. This work is designed to fill this gap and determine what methods the current government uses to "capture" the media system that the US-led coalition has been trying to build for 20 years.

Methods of research analysis of documents (Afghan Constitution of 1964 and 2004, the Law on mass media 2009 and the Law on access to information 2019) and qualitative content analysis, based on the concept of media capture. The categories of analysis (in this case, methods) are financial pressure, arbitrary interference by regulatory authorities, monopoly on information, harassment and intimidation of journalists, control over media ownership. They were taken and summarized from the works we studied on the topic: G. Koskun on the "media takeover" in Turkey by the ruling Justice and Development Party since 2003 (Coskun, G. B. (2020). Media capture strategies in new authoritarian states: the case of Turkey. Publizistik, 65, 637-654. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s11616-020-00600-9.pdf ), K.-M. Heglund and J. Schaffer on the "media takeover" by the Ugandan government since the 2000s (H?glund, C.-M., & Schaffer, J. K. (2021). Resisting Media Capture: Mobilizing for Media Freedom in Uganda. In M. &. (eds.), Media Capture in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America: Power & Resistance. doi:https://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3912443).

The analyzed sources were the websites of private national media in Afghanistan Khaama Press news agency, Tolo News and Ariana News news channels in English; Internet resources of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ). It is worth noting that the sites of the media selected for the study became leaders in Afghanistan in terms of the number of visitors in 2020 according to Alexa (Amazon's web traffic analysis service) (https://www.khaama.com/khaama-press-ranked-first-among-afghanistans-media-websites-alexa-report-97976 / ). The first place was taken by Khaama Press, the country's largest news agency, founded in 2010. The second is Tolo News, the first 24hour news channel created in 2010. On the sixth is Ariana News, one of the leading TV and radio channels launched in 2005.

The materials were searched for the period from August 15, 2021 to December 15, 2023 using the following tags: media in Afghanistan, journalists in Afghanistan, Afghan journalists, journalism in Afghanistan, Afghan media.

Literature review

There are different ideas about the media system. D. McQuail defined it as "an actual set of media in a given national society", outlined by such basic features as size, degree of centralization and politicization, diversity profile, sources of funding, level of public regulation and control" (McQuail's, 2005). J. Hardy emphasized that "the media system includes all mass media organized or operating within a certain social and political system, that is, a national state" (Hardy J. 2012). T. Flue and S. Weisbord called it "a conceptual structure that considers a complex of structures and their dynamics in such a way that allows systematic study of media, politics and strategy" (Flew T., Waisbord S., 2015). They noted that "the media system is at the center of important structures and processes closely related to the nation-state."

S.S. Bodrunova interpreted the media system "as a large functional subsystem of society, having its own boundaries, logic of development, degrees of openness and the nature of interaction with the rest of the social system" (Bodrunova S.S. 2015). According to E.L. Vartanova, this is "an interconnected complex of media channels, media content, media technologies addressed to the audience, operating within the framework of national and international legislation in the context of the geopolitical and economic situation of the country, its ethnocultural conditions and historical traditions, as well as the characteristics of the audience's identity" (E.L. Vartanova, 2020). She emphasized that the media system is an integral part of the modern state, which needs national media as an institution to maintain its integrity, and ensures the vital activity and functioning of society through the dissemination of various kinds of information and mass cultural products of other types (Vartanova et al., 2021). In this way, several tasks are being implemented from ensuring political processes to maintaining national identity, from forming the culture of citizens to spreading knowledge, values, and stereotypes.

It is worth noting that the media system is always "tied" to a specific territory or organization (Gavra D.P., Naumenko K.A. (2021). It operates according to certain laws, regulations, and ethical codes applicable to media actors associated with it. The media system is developing under the influence of external factors that determine the nature of the media content. Within the State, these include the historical, cultural, political, social, ethnic and other characteristics of its population.

The media system of Afghanistan

This study is devoted to the media system of Afghanistan, which has undergone many changes over the past 20 years. As a result of the application of a pro-Western political "template" without taking into account the history and religious and cultural image of the country, a special hybrid regime arose democratic authoritarianism (Novikova O.N., 2023). Under him, democratic State institutions and civil society, including the media and protest movements, are used to achieve goals that are essentially authoritarian. The ideological component, with such strict political control, implies the marginalization of opposition forces and the imposition of a certain ideology by depriving competing ones of legitimacy. The main problem faced by ISAF during the operation in Afghanistan is the fight against the propaganda of the DT, AK and Islamic State movements (other names: the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham) (Recognized as a terrorist organization by the Supreme CourtThe Supreme Court of the Russian Federation,

dated 12/29/2014 No. AKPI 14-1424C, entered into force on 02/13/2015), which came from inside the country and from outside (Tsvetkova N.A., Sytnik A.N., 2018). These organizations, banned in the Russian Federation, conducted it by traditional means they turned on radio Sharia using mobile stations, sent letters calling for donations to jihad and harm coalition forces, conducted sermons near mosques. In response, under the US administration during the presidency of George W. Bush (2001-2009), two radio stations were created on the well-known VOA (Voice of America) and Radio Liberty platforms Radio Deewa and Radio Mashaal. They broadcast in the northwestern region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, through which weapons, mercenaries and propaganda came. The main issues raised in the programs were related to Islam, the behavior of suicide bombers, and the political goals of the militants. In 2004, the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan was adopted. The 34th article is dedicated to the media: "Freedom of expression is inviolable. Every Afghan has the right to express his thoughts through speech, writing, illustrations, and other means in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution. Every Afghan has the right, in accordance with the provisions of the law, to print and publish materials on topics without prior submission to government agencies. Directives concerning the press, radio and television, as well as publications and other media, are regulated by law." According to article 16 on the State language (Pashto and Dari), "the use of all existing languages in the country must be free in print media and mass media" (the Constitution of Afghanistan of 2004: https://www.constituteproject.org/constitution/Afghanistan_2004 ).

The Afghan Media Law was adopted in 2006 and consisted of 43 articles, and in 2009 it was changed due to the widespread use of online media and expanded to 54 articles. It was designed to "promote and support the right to freedom of thought and speech; protect the rights of journalists and provide a basis for free media activity; promote and develop free, independent and pluralistic media; provide a suitable environment for the free expression of views and feelings of citizens, as well as for reflecting the truth through speech, writing, drawing, photography, recording, acting, movement and other scientific, artistic, literary phenomena, press and radio broadcasting; respect the right to freedom of speech and the media, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, observing the foundations of Islam; support the healthy development of the media so that they become an effective means of transmitting reliable news, information, education, promotion of knowledge and culture and reflected public opinion in accordance with journalistic standards, principles and values (honesty, impartiality and reasonableness)" (The Afghan Media Law of 2009: https://www.refworld.org/docid/5ddce5604.html ). However, the law also contains articles aimed at infringing on freedom of religion and speech. In particular, article 45 refers to the prevention of publication in the media of materials contrary to the principles and provisions of Islam, propaganda and dissemination of religions other than Islam. In the 15th and 20th it is noted that private and public radio and TV channels are obliged to observe the principles and provisions of Islam, the national and spiritual values of the Afghan nation in their programs, and to promote religious education. According to article 50, representatives of foreign media intending to work in Afghanistan must receive a letter of recommendation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic, provide data to the Ministry of Culture and receive a special press card. The 51st says that the publisher must register books or manuals with the Ministry of Culture after publication, and the owner must provide the department and the public library with two copies of each of his works.

During the presidency of Barack Obama (2009-2017), the US administration expanded the approach of its predecessor and put forward a strategy of public diplomacy involving an immediate response to the actions of extremists in the information space, the development of a free press and reducing the influence of propaganda from the rebels. Mobile phones began to be used as the main means of spreading information Afghans received SMS messages with statements from the US authorities. The administration also decided to create a unified media space with a predominance of American values and Western democracy. Thus, a Middle East broadcasting network appeared in Afghanistan, which included several radio and TV channels, the most popular of them being ToloTV (Afghanistan's Fourth Estate Independent Media. PEACEBRIEF: https://www.usip.org/sites/default/files/PB189-Afghanistans-Fourth-Estate-Independent-Media.pdf). This Western-style channel broadcast music and feature films, and many programs were aimed at involving Afghan women in the country's political and economic issues. In 2011-2013, many members of the coalition created information channels and informed the Afghan public about their actions. Such TV channels as BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera English, Al Arabia appeared. Meanwhile, global foundations and organizations actively disseminated information about human rights.

The US strategy of action on Afghanistan during the presidency of Donald Trump (2017-2021) focused on a military solution to the problem, but funding for public diplomacy projects continued in full (The Administration's 2017 Budget Request for Assistance to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Hearing. House Committee on Foreign Affairs. April 27, 2016. Available at: https://foreignaffairs.house.gov/hearing/joint-subcommittee-hearing-presidents-plan-afghanistan-pakistan-objectives-resources/ ). In 2019, the law on access to information came into force in Afghanistan, consisting of six chapters and 41 articles and guaranteeing the right of all Afghan citizens to receive information from government agencies (Afghanistan's Access to Information Law: https://www.refworld.org/pdfid/5b165b2b4.pdf ).

Its main objectives are to promote transparency, improve the dissemination of information, encourage citizen participation in governance, ensure institutional accountability and fight corruption. To counter the propaganda coming from various countries and groups, popular foreign and local bloggers were involved (ISIS Online: Countering Terrorist Radicalization and Recruitment on The Internet and Social Media. Hearing. U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. July 6, 2016. Available at: https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/Subcommittees/Investigations/Hearings/Isis-Online-Countering-Terrorist-Radicalization-And-Recruitment-On-The- Internet_Social-Media).

However, over the years of the operation, the US government failed to defeat the propaganda of DT and as a result was deprived of support from the majority of the Afghan population. In February 2020, U.S. President D. Trump agreed with representatives of the DT on the withdrawal of all international forces led by the United States by May 2021. Immediately after the withdrawal of American troops, the combat wing of the DT began an active offensive against the government forces of Afghanistan. On August 15, 2021, representatives of the DT entered the presidential palace in Kabul and announced "the creation of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in the near future, President Ashraf Ghani left the country" (Taliban sweep into Afghan capital after government collapses: https://apnews.com/article/afghanistan-taliban-kabul-bagram-e1ed33fe0c665ee67ba132c51b8e32a5 ).

Thus, in 2021, Afghanistan moved from democratic authoritarianism to authoritarianism, in which the media is one of the key mechanisms of government influence on public opinion and performs mainly a demonstrative function (Lorentzen, P., 2014). With their help, autocrats convey to the people their own position on significant issues, show the presence of public discussion in a limited volume and without involving all the main players (Nechai V.V., 2019). The media also has a showcase function, when the regime uses them as proof of its own democracy in the form of compliance with formal requirements for "freedoms", thus achieving recognition in the international arena. For example, independent media are allowed to criticize the government, but only within certain limits. The media is also used as a source of information about the real state of affairs and a way to monitor the situation at the local level. However, autocrats may have a dilemma: with maximum control, the agenda will turn out to be extremely boring and monotonous and will not correspond to reality, and with weak control, alternative sources of information may appear that pose a serious threat to the stability of the regime (Marquez, X, 2019).

The government represented by the interim government of Afghanistan is guided by Sharia law, which practically means abandoning the parliamentary, democratic system of government of the country that existed before. In order to establish and maintain their monopolistic ideological dominance, they take control of public opinion formation bodies, the media and educational institutions (Novikova O.N., 2023). The purpose of this is to strengthen the traditional identity of the state, which has been "shaken" by Western reforms. The interim Government of Afghanistan, formed by the DT, positions itself as an absolute power, supported by the majority and therefore gained legitimacy. At the same time, representatives of the DT seek to discredit and de-legitimize the activities of legislative institutions, election commissions, secular judicial bodies and a number of other social institutions that were created during the years of the coalition's presence. Almost immediately, the militants who came to power abolished the 2004 constitution, as it is "insufficiently" Islamic, does not recognize the commands of God as the basis of law and policy (Issue update: Religious freedom and women right in Afghanistan: https://www.uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/2023%20Religious%20Freedom%20and%20Womens%20Rights%20in%20Afghanistan%20Issue%20Update_Final.pdf ). In two years, the interim Government of Afghanistan has not presented a new constitution for Afghanistan. It is still under development. At the same time, for a transitional period, they decided to restore the 1964 constitution of the time of the last king Muhammad Zahir Shah, excluding its provisions that contradict the laws of Sharia and the Koran (Taliban to implement a constitution from nearly 60 years ago: https://www.khaama.com/taliban-to-implement-a-constitution-from-nearly-60-years-ago-457457 /).

It is worth noting that its 31st article says the following: "Freedom of thought and expression is inviolable. Every Afghan has the right to express his thoughts orally, in writing, through images and other means in accordance with the provisions of the law. Every Afghan has the right to print and publish ideas in accordance with the provisions of the law, without prior submission to the State authorities. Permission to establish and own public printing houses and publish publications is granted only to citizens and the State of Afghanistan in accordance with the provisions of the law. The establishment and operation of public radio and television broadcasting is the exclusive right of the State" (The Constitution of Afghanistan of 1964: https://www.constituteproject.org/constitution/Afghanistan_1964 ). That is, unlike the Constitution of 2004, it allows only state-owned radio and television channels to exist, and also prohibits the activities of foreign media in the country. The document does not mention press regulation, and online media did not exist at that time.

According to the Afghan Journalists Center (AFJC), in September 2021, the head of the government's media center, Yusuf Ahmadi, announced new rules for journalists (The Taliban's 14 Directives on Freedom of Media and Access to Information: https://afjc.media/english/killed/the-taliban-s-13-directives-on-freedom-of-media-and-access-to-information):

  • It is forbidden to publish topics that contradict Islam.
  • It is forbidden to insult national figures in the media.
  • It is necessary to refrain from insulting national and personal dignity.
  • It is forbidden to distort the content of the news.
  • It is necessary to adhere to journalistic principles in the materials.
  • It is necessary to maintain a balance in publications.
  • Caution should be exercised when publishing materials whose authenticity is unknown or has not been confirmed by the authorities.
  • One should be careful when publishing materials that have a negative impact on public opinion or undermine people's morale.
  • It is necessary to remain neutral when publishing news and give priority to spreading the truth.
  • It is necessary to coordinate special reports with the government media center.

These rules include the first three articles from the Media Law of the Republic of Afghanistan. However, the lack of clarity in defining issues that contradict Islam, as well as offending national and personal dignity, can create unnecessary pressure on journalists and the media. In addition, the DT imposed an obligation to call itself the government of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, and not a group; banned music publications in the media, criticize the activities of officials, conduct interviews with opponents and critics of the movement, and urged to refrain from inviting them to participate in televised debates.

In 2022, the Ministry of Information and Culture of the Islamic Emirate declared the media law adopted by the previous government unenforceable (Afghanistan's new media law sent to supreme leader for approval: https://www.ariananews.af/afghanistans-new-media-law-sent-to-supreme-leader-for-approval /). It was only in August 2023 that the interim government of Afghanistan drafted a new media law and sent it to Supreme Leader Haibatullah Akhundzada for approval. Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the movement, said that about 70% of the draft was taken from the old law (Afghanistan's new media law submitted to supreme leader for approval: https://www.khaama.com/afghanistans-new-media-law-submitted-to-supreme-leader-for-approval /). Changes have been made to bring it into line with Sharia law. According to the representative of the DT, all citizens of Afghanistan, including women, will have the opportunity to create media, supervise them and work in media organizations. Foreign media, including the BBC and Voice of America, as well as freelance journalists will be able to work in Afghanistan, provided they comply with the country's internal rules. The project also assumes that the sources of media financing should be transparent. However, after that, there was no information about the adoption, revision or entry into force of the new media law.

It should be noted that, according to the Afghan Association of Independent Journalists (AIJA), more than half of the 547 media outlets registered in 2021 disappeared (Afghan journalism still resisting after two years of Taliban persecution https://rsf.org/en/afghan-journalism-still-resisting-after-two-years-taliban-persecution ). Less than 70 out of 150 TV channels remain. Of the 307 radio stations, only 170 are still broadcasting. The number of news agencies decreased from 31 to 18.

According to an Internews study conducted in December 2023, 53% of Afghans use television to get information, 39% use word of mouth, 38% use social networks (The Information Ecosystem in Afghanistan and Implications for Humanitarian Action https://reliefweb.int/report/afghanistan/information-ecosystem-afghanistan-and-implications-humanitarian-action). During the survey, respondents noted that the main news sources they had contacted before the change of government in 2021 had been disbanded, banned or taken over by the new Foreign Ministry, thereby changing the content of the information. Television and radio are the most frequently used sources of information due to their convenience. Afghans who can afford a satellite receive international news, while others get access mainly to local news via TV antenna, since foreign content is prohibited. The majority of TV viewers named the TV channel Tolo News (66%), Afghanistan International (34%) and Ariana (18%). Residents listening to the radio were more likely to mention the BBC (40%), Azadi (21%), Arman (20%) and Shamshad (14%). 73% of urban residents have access to the Internet, 54% of those living in the suburbs and 43% of those living in villages. The most popular social networks in Afghanistan are Facebook* (used by 80% of respondents) and WhatsApp (51%). This is followed by IMO (17%), Instagram* (15%), Telegram (15%) and X (11%).

According to a GeoPoll survey conducted between December 2023 and January 2024, 67% of the adult population of Afghanistan watch TV at least once a month (Afghanistan Media Audience Landscape https://325431.fs1.hubspotusercontent-na1.net/hubfs/325431/GeoPoll%20Afghanistan%20Media%20Landscape%20-%20Establishment%20Survey%20Report.pdf). The top TV channels by number of viewers include Tolo TV/Tolo News, Afghanistan International, Ariana TV, Gem Bollywood Faza TV, Lemar TV, Shamshad TV, Afghanistan National TV, BBC, Tamadon TV, Watan TV, Arezo TV, Yak TV and Amu TV. The top radio channels are BBC, Radio Azadi, Arman FM, Afghanistan International, National Radio, Shamshad Radio, Ariana FM, Islamic Radio, Radio Ashna, Salam Watandar, Radio Tolo, Sharq Radio, Deewa Radio and Laghman Province Radio. It was also found that 67% of Afghans live in families with Internet access, 58% use social networks or applications at least once a month, 43% watch TV or videos online at least once a month. 16.2 million adults in Afghanistan view media news materials weekly. 54% use television, 24% use radio, 17% use social networks, 3% use online video and streaming, and 1% use websites.

In fact, after returning to power in 2021, the DT is undergoing a process where the new government "captures" the media system of Afghanistan. Media capture ("media capture") should be understood as a situation in which the media could not become autonomous in the manifestation of their own will and perform their main function, in particular, "to inform people, continuing to be in an intermediate state when interested parties, not only the current government, use them for other purposes" (Mungiu-Pippidi, A. (2013). In this paper, the concept of media capture is considered on the example of two studies. G. Koskun determined that the Justice and Development Party, which has been ruling in Turkey since 2003, used three strategies to "capture media": changing the ownership structure of the media through the powers of various state institutions and the imposition of financial sanctions, fining independent media by the Supreme Council of Radio and Television, harassment K.-M. Heglund and J. Schaffer, studying the "media takeover" by the Ugandan government since the 2000s, identified the following methods: control over the property of national and local media, advertising and the regulatory framework, arbitrary interference by regulatory authorities, harassment and attacks on journalists.

DT, according to our content analysis, resorted to the following methods of "media capture": arbitrary interference by regulatory authorities, monopoly on information, harassment and intimidation of journalists, control over media ownership, financial pressure. Arbitrary interference by regulatory authorities manifested itself as direct or indirect censorship (IEA warns media against publishing rumors / https://www.ariananews.af/iea-warns-media-against-publishing-rumors /), restrictions on women journalists (Women-Run Radio Station Banned in Afghanistan's Badakhshan / https://www.khaama.com/women-run-radio-station-banned-in-afghanistans-badakhshan , NEW REPORT: Afghanistan press freedom is in crisis as local journalists fight for survival / https://cpj.org/2022/08/new-report-afghanistan-press-freedom-is-in-crisis-as-local-journalists-fight-for-survival/, Women journalists face dire situation in Afghanistan under Taliban rule / https://ijnet.org/en/story/women-journalists-face-dire-situation-afghanistan-under-taliban-rule ), the introduction of new rules of journalism (Afghan journalism still resisting after two years of Taliban persecution / https://rsf.org/en/afghan-journalism-still-resisting-after-two-years-taliban-persecution ). Also, the DT often established a monopoly on information by restricting access to information from officials (Journalists Criticize Restrictions on Access to Information / https://tolonews.com/afghanistan/attack-mediajournalists-181616 ) and the ban on the work of foreign media (VOA, RFE/RL Radio Broadcasts Halted in Afghanistan / https://tolonews.com/afghanistan-180995 ). The third most used method is harassment and intimidation of journalists. The article talks about 109 cases of violence against journalists, including the murder of eight, in 2021 and an increase in the level of violence against media employees by 138% in 2022 (Standing Strong / https://samsn.ifj.org/SAPFR22-23/afghanistan ).

In addition, during the content analysis, we identified two methods that were not mentioned in the studied studies. The first, control over journalism education, was found in the article "The Taliban Minister (IEA) talks about changing the journalism curriculum" (The Taliban Minister (IEA) talks about changing the journalism curriculum / https://www.khaama.com/taliban-iea-minister-speaks-on-altering-journalism-curriculum /). The Afghan Ministry of Higher Education announced that initial initiatives have been taken to revise the journalism curriculum at universities: "The administration plans to significantly revise the journalism curriculum in order to teach young journalists to cover events in the country honestly and conscientiously, and not to promote wrong things directed against any group, regime or Islamic values." When analyzing the material "Standing Still (Standing Strong)", such a method as forced disconnection of communication and the Internet (Standing Strong https://samsn.ifj.org/SAPFR22-23/afghanistan /). The article noted that "DT repeatedly turned off the Internet during the 2021 protests and during the fighting in Panjshir. Currently, the Internet in Afghanistan is slow and inaccessible outside major cities, which limits the ability of reporters to gather information, as well as access to online news."

Conclusions

For 20 years, the media system of Afghanistan has been formed under the influence of an international coalition led by the United States, which tried to create a liberal democratic state. It was based on a compromise of Western "democratic" and Islamic values, more pluralistic and free than before and after this period. The result of the work of the pro-Western government was the legal recognition of freedom of speech, expression and the media. Laws on media and access to information were passed, thanks to which Afghan journalists conducted their activities and were protected. However, in August 2021, the DT came to power, which began to exercise control over all spheres, including the media, taking Sharia law as a basis. In this way, they strengthen the traditional identity of the state, which has been "shaken" by Western reforms, and position themselves as an absolute and legitimate government.

After coming to power, the interim Government of Afghanistan repealed the 2004 Constitution and the 2009 Media Law. The Law on Access to Information in 2019 has not been officially repealed, but it is not respected in the country. Thus, the DT began the transformation of the state's media system.

During the content analysis, it was found that DT "captures the media" by interfering and restricting the work of the media, introducing a monopoly on information, as well as harassing journalists. In addition, new methods of "capture" were revealed control over journalistic education and forced disconnection of communications and the Internet.

Instagram Facebook and Instagram social media products are prohibited from operating on the territory of the Russian Federation on the grounds of extremist activity by the American multinational holding company Meta Platforms Inc. The decision of the Tverskoy District Court of Moscow. March 21, 2022. Case No. 02-2473/2022.

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The problem of regulating the media system in different countries of the world is perhaps the most difficult in the format of journalism. There are studies of a fairly general orientation, and there are works of point assessment. Most of the authors who choose this subject of analysis try to approach this issue objectively. The data is systematized, the available developments are combined into a single information field, and experience is summarized. The reviewed article provides a detailed description of the problem of transformation of the media system in Afghanistan. I think that the choice is quite justified, while the author tries to update the current situation as a whole for the interested public. The work has a solid appearance, it is independent, the main genre criteria are met. The problem is objectified, which is quite logical, almost from the very beginning of the reviewed work: "the vast majority of the Afghan media is already under the strict control of the DT, trying to adapt to new conditions and act within the framework of new requirements, which indicates a fundamental change in the media system. Previously, international and foreign media outlets operating in the country are forced to conduct their activities from abroad, receive information from sources who risk persecution, and use only social networks and online platforms to spread news. Now the media system that has been forming in Afghanistan over the past 20 years can be completely "captured" and, as a result, destroyed in the understanding of researchers of the concept of media capture." I think that such a variant of the theme layout is quite natural and justified. The research methodology includes a traditional set of techniques, in this case, works the so-called open Analytics: "research Methods analysis of documents (Afghan Constitution of 1964 and 2004, the Law on mass media 2009 and the Law on access to information 2019) and qualitative content analysis, based on the concept of media capture. The categories of analysis (in this case, methods) are financial pressure, arbitrary interference by regulatory authorities, monopoly on information, harassment and intimidation of journalists, control over media ownership." The illustrative base was shared access sources: "the analyzed sources were the websites of private national media in Afghanistan the Khaama Press news agency, Tolo News and Ariana News news channels in English; Internet resources of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the International the Center for Journalists (ICFJ)", "The search for materials was carried out for the period from August 15, 2021 to December 15, 2023 using the following tags: media in Afghanistan, journalists in Afghanistan, Afghan journalists, journalism in Afghanistan, Afghan media". The scientific novelty of the work lies in the maximum concentration of different positions, while the author seeks to argue the basic standard of theses, partly to predict the further path of transformation of the media system of Afghanistan. Judgments in the course of work are verified and accurate: for example, "There are different ideas about the media system. D. McQuail defined it as "an actual set of media in a given national society", outlined by such basic features as size, degree of centralization and politicization, diversity profile, sources of funding, level of public regulation and control" (McQuail's, 2005). J. Hardy emphasized that "the media system includes all mass media organized or operating within a certain social and political system, that is, the national state" (Hardy J. 2012)", or "It is worth noting that the media system is always "tied" to a specific territory or organization (Le Havre D.P., Naumenko K.A. (2021). It operates according to certain laws, regulations, and ethical codes applicable to media actors associated with it. The media system is developing under the influence of external factors that determine the nature of the media content. Within the state, these include the historical, cultural, political, social, ethnic and other characteristics of its population," or "The Afghan Media Law was adopted in 2006 and consisted of 43 articles, and in 2009 it was changed due to the widespread use of online media and expanded to 54 articles. It was designed to "promote and support the right to freedom of thought and speech; protect the rights of journalists and provide a basis for free media activity; promote and develop free, independent and pluralistic media; provide a suitable environment for the free expression of views and feelings of citizens, as well as for reflecting the truth through speech, writing, drawing, photography, recording, acting, movement and other scientific, artistic, literary phenomena, press and radio broadcasting; respect the right to freedom of speech and the media, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, observing the foundations of Islam; support the healthy development of the media so that they become an effective means of transmitting reliable news, information, education, promotion of knowledge and culture and reflected public opinion in accordance with journalistic standards, principles and values (honesty, impartiality and reasonableness)" (The Afghan Media Law of 2009: https://www.refworld.org/docid/5ddce5604.html )", etc. The necessary set of footnotes is entered into the text taking into account the requirements of the publication. The work uses the chronological principle of data inclusion, which, in my opinion, is correct. Factual and statistical data allow us to objectively reason about the chosen issue: "It should be noted that, according to the Afghan Association of Independent Journalists (AIJA), more than half of the 547 media outlets registered in 2021 disappeared (Afghan journalism still resisting after two years of Taliban persecution https://rsf.org/en/afghan-journalism-still-resisting-after-two-years-taliban-persecution ). Less than 70 out of 150 TV channels remain. Of the 307 radio stations, only 170 are still broadcasting. The number of news agencies has decreased from 31 to 18." The conclusions of the text do not contradict the main part: "For 20 years, the media system of Afghanistan has been formed under the influence of an international coalition led by the United States, which tried to create a liberal democratic state. It was based on a compromise of Western "democratic" and Islamic values, more pluralistic and free than before and after this period. The result of the work of the pro-Western government was the legal recognition of freedom of speech, expression and the media. Laws on media and access to information were passed, thanks to which Afghan journalists conducted their activities and were protected. However, in August 2021, the DT came to power, which began to exercise control over all spheres, including the media, taking Sharia law as a basis. This is how they strengthen the traditional identity of the state, which has been "shaken" by Western reforms, and position themselves as an absolute and legitimate government." The purpose of this study has been achieved, the tasks have been solved; the style corresponds to the scientific type, the content level is quite informative. I recommend the article "Transformation of the media system of Afghanistan in the context of the formation of statehood" for publication in the scientific journal "Litera".