Sharq promises to tackle media’s post-COVID-19 challenges

KABUL: On the initiative of the Deputy Ministry of Information and Culture on Publication Affairs, a meeting was held to discuss media’s challenges post COVID-19 era.

Delivering his inaugural speech at the event, Deputy Minister of Publications, Abdul Manan Shiway Sharq said if there were no press, people were witnessing a dark society.

“Corona has brought challenges in the world and had created a new post COVID-19 era too,” he added, saying media has remained in the first line of combat against the fatal virus and rendering many challenges. He promised to spare no efforts in tackling their challenges.

“The Afghan cabinet has asked both ministries of information and culture and foreign affairs to follow up media’s views and recommendations in line with the peace process,” the deputy minister noted.

He also said that his office was advocating the media’s rights and asked the participants at the meeting to soon introduce their representative which will be included as member of the Afghan Negotiating team in Doha.

Meanwhile, a group of Afghan media heads and journalists at an event on Thursday said the COVID-19 pandemic has affected media outlets financially and that they have not received support by the government so far.

Media owners said a joint plan will be made with the government to overcome economic challenges for media outlets. “Support should be provided to media outlets without any discrimination if there is any available resource,” editor-in-chief of Hasht-e-Subh Daily

 “The numbers are much higher than provided by the government about the impact of COVID-19 on media outlets. On an average, each media outlet has fired 20 to 25 percent of its employees,” said Zabihullah Jahanmal, a TOLOnews journalist.

Other media owners called on the government to help them revive their business. “The government should facilitate long-term loans to media outlets,” said Khalida Tahsin, head of Killid Radio, a Kabul-based media outlet.

“They (government institutions) refrain to provide information to the media,” said Hamid Haidari, head of 1TV, a Kabul-based TV network. “The interesting point is that some information is divided as classified while it does not contain classified contents.”

The Ministry of Information and Culture at the event said the concerns will be shared with the leadership of the ministry to find a solution for it.  “The Ministry of Information will share the concerns of the Afghan media with the government leadership,” said Sharq.

Statistics by NAI, an organization supporting open media in Afghanistan, indicate that at least six journalists died and more than 1,000 more were infected with COVID-19 during the pandemic and a large number of media workers lost their jobs.

The Kabul Times

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