Afghanistan to have 24-hour TV news channel with Indian expertise from Prasar Bharati

NEW DELHI: Afganistan will have a news channel run by the public service Radio and Television Afghanistan (RTA) in the next three months which is expected to get technical help from Prasar Bharati.

RTA today signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Prasar Bharati which will enable the two public service broadcasters to exchange programmes and India will extend help to Afghanistan in infrastructure. The MoU was signed by RTA director general Zarin Anzor and his counterpart in Prasar Bharati, Jawhar Sircar. Abdul Rahman Panjshiri, head of international relations in Afghanistan, was also present, apart from All India Radio Director General L D Mandloi and other officials.

The news channel will initially telecast news for six hours but will gradually become 24x7 channel.

Afghanistan will send ten journalists and editors to India for training with the public service broadcaster to upgrade their talent pool, particularly, for their proposed News channel.

An MoU was signed by him and CEO, Prasar Bharati on 27 to further strengthen bilateral cooperation between the two countries in the field of broadcasting.

As part of its programme of development and reconstruction of war-ravaged Afghanistan, the government has already been providing assistance in the field of Broadcasting and Telecommunication and implemented several projects in various parts of Afghanistan. Sircar said that Prasar Bharati has been helping Afghanistan earlier on an ad hoc basis, but this agreement formalized the framework.

A number of transmission towers and television studios with modern equipment have been provided.

RTA has a network of 24 TV transmitters with downlink facilities at various parts, one 100 KW Short Wave transmitter with seven antennas catering service to its neighbouring countries and one Uplink Earth station in Kabul providing connectivity.

The Afghan delegation requested Prasar Bharati and the Broadcast Engineering Consultants (India) Ltd. (BECIL) to help in repair and maintenance of the existing transmission facilities such as Uplink, Short Wave transmitter, and TV network.

As there are lot of similarities in Indian and Afghan culture, RTA is very keen to have Indian programmes related to serials, documentaries, scientific programmes, films, etc.

Doordarshan has already agreed to send two senior TV producers to RTA to help improving the quality and bring creativeness and innovations in their home productions. Prasar Bharati has accepted the requests from RTA and has assured it all possible help in achieving their goals.

Addressing mediapersons, Anzor said the Afghans are very fond of Indian films and understand Hindi and Urdu. However, he agreed that its radio wing could take programmes in Dari and Pushtu languages from the External Services of All India Radio.

Sircar said that the exchange of programmes would be on a ‘gratis basis’ and India will bear the costs. There were possibilities of production as well, he added.

Panjshiri said short wave signals were not dissipated, and so AIR should be able to provide signals in medium wave or FM as Voice of America was doing. He said that Afghanistan would also like to learn from the Indian experience in Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM).

He said Afghanistan today had forty TV channels, four FM channels, and eight AM transmitters – in the private and public sector. There are five private news agencies apart from one run by the government.

Anzor admitted that there had been lack of communication, when it was pointed out to him that Afghanistan could pick up the streaming of AIR bulletins from its website and broadcast this in that country.

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