Tags: Afghanistan | media | attacks | coverage

Afghanistan Bans Live Coverage of Attacks

Tuesday, 02 Mar 2010 10:41 AM

KABUL — The Afghan government has banned live coverage of militant attacks in a bid to prevent the Taliban from exploiting television news to their advantage, an official said Tuesday.

The ban appears to apply to domestic and international news organisations, although the country's intelligence agency refused to provide details.

Afghanistan's constitution guarantees freedom of speech and media.

An official at the government's media unit confirmed the ban.

A spokesman said live television coverage of attacks -- such as that in Kabul last Friday which killed 16 people -- could alert militant organisations to police actions against their operatives on the ground.

"While journalists are going to the scene of ongoing attacks, they endanger themselves and also they help inform the enemy with their live broadcasts or reporting of the progress of (police) operations," Hakim Ashir, the head of the Government Media and Information Centre, told AFP.

The National Directorate for Security refused to comment when contacted by AFP. A spokesman said only that media organisations would be "invited in small groups to meetings and the new rule will explained to them".

AFP could expect to be called in on Wednesday, he added.

Afghanistan's Pajhwok news agency said some organisations -- including the BBC and Al-Jazeera -- had already been informed.

It reflects an earlier attempt to ban coverage of Taliban attacks during elections in August, under threat of expulsion for international reporters and confiscation of equipment for Afghans.

At the time, reporters and photographers complained of rough treatment from police while covering violent incidents, which were stepped up ahead of the elections to deter voters.

Afghan media rights groups slammed the move as censorship, saying it contravened the constitution.

"We see this as direct censorship. This is prevention of reporting and contravenes the constitution which says access to information is the right of everyone," said Rahimullah Samandar, head of the Afghanistan Independent Journalists' Association.

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KABUL — The Afghan government has banned live coverage of militant attacks in a bid to prevent the Taliban from exploiting television news to their advantage, an official said Tuesday.
Afghanistan,media,attacks,coverage
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2010-41-02
Tuesday, 02 Mar 2010 10:41 AM
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