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The Largely Unknown Success Story of Afghanistan's Television Network 78

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-day-all-night-we-know-what-you-need dept.
Daniel_Stuckey writes in with an Afghanistan media success story. "I met Orner at South by Southwest, where she was hustling her latest film, The Network. The Network features a brighter side of Afghanistan's brighter side: the story of its television revolution. In Orner's opinion, it's a narrative that runs contrary to our common conceptions of a country that has spent decades in a state of war and instability. She followed Saad Mohseni, a media guru and founder of Afghan media firm Moby Group, who is credited for jump starting the nation's media transformation. Sometimes referred to as the Rupert Murdoch of Afghanistan, Mohseni, an Afghan expat and entrepreneur, explains how he and his siblings returned to Kabul from Australia in 2001, amidst the war shifting into gear. First, they launched a radio station, and by 2004 they'd shifted to television with Tolo TV, quickly turning Moby Group into the largest media conglomerate in the nation."
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The Largely Unknown Success Story of Afghanistan's Television Network

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  • -1, SXSW (Score:4, Funny)

    by Gothmolly (148874) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @11:04PM (#43200451)

    Can we get a new mod category? For hipsterish memes?

  • I met Orner at South by Southwest, where she was hustling her latest film

    • by fonske (1224340)
      I first read Omer (from Arabic Umar) but since he was a she,it will be more of a "hey babe, take a walk on the wild side".
      OK, I should update on my font settings...
  • Afghan Star (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @11:33PM (#43200543)

    I'll just leave this [afghanstar...entary.com] right here.

  • by NicBenjamin (2124018) on Sunday March 17, 2013 @11:51PM (#43200601)

    Granted it's got a lot of problems. But Afghanistan is probably the best country to live in it's neighborhood. The leadership is a bit erratic, and the Taliban is a problem; but neighboring Pakistan has both problems worse. Neighboring Iran is Iran. Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan are dominated by the same ruling class that ran them when they were Soviet states, the elections are little better then jokes.

    Technically China is also Afghanistan's neighbor, which means that Afghanistan may only be the second-most fucked up country in it's region. It's first if you don't think China's recent economic success is a) going to continue or b) worth all the prices the Chinese pay for it.

    • I recall how the Taliban kept sabotaging Cell Towers in the interest of enforcing some "islamic" ban on cell phone usage. It seemed like this was a pretty fragile system since it was hard to protect the towers. Did this ever resolve itself? I would guess that broadcast towers for TV and Radio have longer ranges and thus might have fewer locations to protect. But ultimately I wonder if those can be protected against a determined foe.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 18, 2013 @01:55AM (#43200925)

      Are you kidding me? I assume you must watch a fair bit of Fox News. Granted, the 'stans' are not great, but Afghanistan is undoubtedly one of the worst places to live in the entire world. Afghanistan is so bad that it even makes Pakistan, China and Iran all look like great places to live.

      Life expectancy at birth: (CIA World Factbook)
      Afghanistan: 49.72 years
      China: 74.84 years
      Pakistan: 66.35 years
      Iran: 70.35 years

      Literacy: (CIA World Factbook)
      Afghanistan: 28.1%
      China: 92.2%
      Pakistan: 54.9%
      Iran: 77%

      Corruption Index (Transparency International)
      Afghanistan: 174 (equal last with Nth Korea and Somalia)
      China: 80
      Pakistan: 139
      Iran: 133

      With such stark stats do I even need to mention that according to the UN, 90% of the worlds opium is supplied by Afghanistan? Do I need to mention that Afghanistan is in the middle of a civil war provoked by the ongoing US and Nato invasion?

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Do I need to mention that Afghanistan is in the middle of a civil war provoked by the ongoing US and Nato invasion?

        You make a good point in your post, however... Afghanistan was already in civil war for about 10 years when the US and Nato invaded it and "joined" the losing side against the Taliban.

      • by Jappus (1177563)

        Dummy post to undo accidental misclick on moderation after a reload of the page. Too bad that Slashdot does not allow one to change a moderation.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Says the guy who got his "experience" out of the "CIA World 'Fact'book", of all things.

        Versus people who actually lived there.

        Here, this is the spirit of Afghanistan, without you Americans, without the Soviets, and without the Taliban (a US creation, by the way):
        Afghanistan in the 70s [twimg.com]
        My dad can still remember the extremely short skirts, the debate and chess clubs, the modern university, the successful sports clubs and the country-wide irrigation channel system that made the whole place green and beautiful.

        • They were apparently even progressive enough to allow cross dressing. That man on the left would have been lynched in parts of the US for dressing like that.

      • I didn't say anything about corruption. There's no question that Afghanistan is horribly corrupt. But corruption is not the worst thing that can happen to a person. Believe me, my parents would have a lot more money if they'd fled corruption-free-in-1980 Detroit to corrupt-as-fucking-hell Chicago.

        The World Factbook's literacy numbers are from the Taliban-era. Now millions of Afghan kids go to school, including most of the girls. It's not a good sign that nobody seems to have newer numbers, but it's also cle

        • by jonadab (583620)
          > I don't like Karzai's corruption. But the simple fact is he's
          > improving his country at a speed which boggles the mind,
          > and everyone else in his region is a) stagnating or b) China.

          Afghanistan could continue improving at that mind-boggling rate for another fifteen years, and China would still be a better place to live (assuming China doesn't get any worse, meanwhile). China has basic societal order, effective nationwide rule of law, a functioning economy (not quite a first-world economy at this
      • by Sigg3.net (886486)

        The Chinese literacy statistics are jacked up or has an interesting interpretation of 'literacy'.

      • by T.E.D. (34228)
        You're using old data. I'm going to do something heretical here, and consult TFA [vice.com]...

        From a country that 12 years ago was about 300 years back in time and had no interest in anything but water, was wanton to get to where it is now, which you'll see in the film is the change. It's been extraordinary. Just the change in life expectancy has gone up from about 46 to 64 in the last 10 years. The illiteracy rate, which is between 60 and 70 percent is falling rapidly.

      • by jonadab (583620)
        > Do I need to mention that Afghanistan is in the middle of
        > a civil war provoked by the ongoing US and Nato invasion?

        There has been ongoing civil war there, continuously, since well before the US existed. There have been changes now and again as to exactly who is fighting on each side and even how many sides there are (the Soviet Union was even involved for a while -- and the soviet puppets were one of the better governments Afghanistan has ever had), but the last time there was anything resembling
    • by peppepz (1311345)
      Can you explain your point a bit better? I mean, in which of those countries can I have a better expectation not to get killed? Which country is better for me if I am a woman? Which one is better if I want to set up an enterprise? The country where I have the best chances to get cured should I fall ill? Where can I expect my kids to get a better education? The one where it's less probable to step on a mine while traveling?
      • The mins problem in Afghanistan is solved.

        If you're a woman the former Soviet states are probably better, because they do a really good job at clamping down on the Taliban. But they're also stagnating. Not to mention the fact that one of them (Uzbekistan) has been known to boil people alive without trial.

        As for setting up a business, why would you do so in Iran or Pakistan? China makes some sense, but corruption there is almost as bad as Afghanistan, it's a lot harder to know who you were supposed to bribe,

    • by unixisc (2429386)
      Oh please! Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan are still very tolerant countries and liberal societies, and they have the same regimes that they had under the Soviets. Yeah, Islam has been trying to make a comeback in those countries, but hasn't yet. These 3 countries are light years ahead of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran!
      • Really? All these countries were better off (some far better off) in the Soviet times, when some actual infrastructure was built, civil unrests were unheard of and there was actually some medical service.

        Of the three countries you have mentioned, only Uzbekistan resembles a civilised country.

        • by unixisc (2429386)
          I didn't disagree w/ that. What I said was that each of those countries are far better off than Pakistan, Afghanistan & Iran!
      • Depends on your definition of "ahead."

        The Uzbek equivalent of Aaron Swartz gets boiled alive. The night life may beat Kabul, but boiling--people-alive is just not something I will ever be cool with.

        I'm not claiming any of these places is a particularly good place to live. I'm claiming that, compared to the places it's actually near Afghanistan has a hell of a lot to offer. Too often Westerners freak out because it's worse then even Alabama. Well yes. But it's also rapidly becoming a better place to live the

        • by unixisc (2429386)

          Well, Uzbekistan has, since its independence, been the target of Jihadis who want to revive the Timuride empire and set up a huge Islamic state comprising of all the stans, and probably Afghanistan as well. Yeah, I can understand why anyone would be hostile to anything Soviet, but at least w/ the Soviets (like the Chinese today), as long as political dissidence is not there, people don't get persecuted. Were Uzbekistan to become an Islamic state, like Egypt, you'd start to see the persecution of non-Musli

    • by guacamole (24270)

      What a bizarre post. Honestly. As if many people have to face the choice of choosing a country in the region. Anyways, I disagree.

      First, Afghanistan's government is one of the most corrupt in the world. It would suffice to investigate what happens to the aid money they get from the west to rebuild the country. As I query google for "Karzai", Google kindly suggests a bunch of auto-completions. The first one is "Karzai corruption". Enough said. Karzai is hardly a democrat. Just look at the recent elections. H

      • Yeah Karzai's corrupt, and his country has no obvious economic resource. But you could say the same of Korea in the 60s and 70s. It's really hard to know how much of Karzai's success is a "dead cat bounce," but the simple fact is that Afghanistan is #1 in terms of rate of improvement in almost every metric.

        As for Iran, I'm smelling blood in the water. And it's not Obama's. Regimes like that tend to look incredibly stable for years, and then collapse in a matter of months. Their Syrian allies are on the rope

    • by roman_mir (125474)

      Yes, China, the most terrible place. The place that pulled 350,000,000 people out of abject poverty in under 30 years by applying something that was very widely used to build the USA at some point... what was that thing.... oh yeah, a relatively free market given the size of Chinese government.

      Will Chinese economic success continue? Let's see, they are producing all the things that everybody in the world wants and they can stop subsidising the world with these products by consuming the output of the product

      • China is hard to rank.

        Yeah the economic growth is amazing, and the world is a much better place for it.

        OTOH political freedom is also a good thing, and the Chinese have no political freedom. Being able to breathe is also really nice, and the Chinese don't seem to have figured out how to get rich without physically destroying the country.

        Whether you prefer China to Afghanistan basically boils down to whether you prefer political freedoms to economic prosperity.

        • by roman_mir (125474)

          Whether you prefer China to Afghanistan basically boils down to whether you prefer political freedoms to economic prosperity.

          - right, because Afghanistan has so many more freedoms than China? Economic prosperity of China is entirely dependent on many individual freedoms, without which prosperity is impossible.

          • In Afghanistan you have a right to criticize Karzai. You have a right to run against Karzai. People's votes won't necessarily be counted accurately, and it's likely some-one will try yo intimidate and/or bribe them away from you; but you have the right try.

            China has no elections. It has no opposition parties. In theory such parties are legal, but the state cracks down on anyone trying to set one up.

            I'm not saying that China's prosperity isn't an amazing accomplishment that counts for a lot. What I am saying

  • by lemur3 (997863) on Monday March 18, 2013 @12:07AM (#43200655)

    its little known, i guess.. and i dont know if its been a great success either but the united states govt has its own arab language network..

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alhurra [wikipedia.org]

    a United States-based Arabic-language satellite TV channel funded by the U.S. Congress that broadcasts news and current affairs programming to audiences in the Middle East and North Africa.

    Its stated mission is to provide "objective, accurate and relevant news and information" to its audience while seeking to "support democratic values" and "expand the spectrum of ideas, opinions, and perspectives" available in the region's media

    it says its available in nearly 2 dozen countries.. i dont see afghanistan on the list.. it looks like the US wont have to worry about competition in that country?

    • by Pinhedd (1661735)

      They don't speak Arabic in Afghanistan so why would they consider broadcasting it?

  • Mr Mohseni and his employees will be out of business or dead as soon as the western forces leave and the Taliban take over again. Or they may just be put out of business by the corrupt present government who don't want the distraction of an independent media.
  • by KGIII (973947) on Monday March 18, 2013 @01:53AM (#43200917) Journal

    I need/want more information. Sure, this is great from a tech viewpoint but from a humanitarian view... Well, I want to know if they have free press AND if that press is what it needs to be in order to do its job. We have that right here in America and we tend to use it fairly well, more so when we get away from mainstream media but pretty well regardless. What free press demands, to be effective, is an inquisitive and persevering group of people to perform that task. Without that you have nominal free press that doesn't do any good. The article touches on this and hopefully the movie covers it more. I'll watch it when it is available to me. Also, the lady has a big nose. (I'm a little high and couldn't help but notice and comment on it.)

  • by sincewhen (640526) on Monday March 18, 2013 @04:12AM (#43201277)

    Sometimes referred to as the Rupert Murdoch of Afghanistan

    Oh, so he's an asshole then?

    • by unapersson (38207)

      I opened this story expecting an article about a TV network powered by Commodore 64s, imagine my disappointment when I see your comment is the only reference to the venerable beast.

You know that feeling when you're leaning back on a stool and it starts to tip over? Well, that's how I feel all the time. -- Steven Wright

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