Regulatory authorities

Under Afghanistan’s mass media law, number 986 of July 2009, there are two regulatory bodies to oversee all media sectors. Article 41 of the law states the creation and performance standards of the Media High Council. The Media High Council develops all the media sector policies and oversees the Radio Television of Afghanistan (RTA). RTA is the only governmental radio and TV station across the country. Its board composed of 13 members from the Information Ministry and the Deputy Minister of Communication. It also has representatives of parliament, senates, Supreme Court, media and civil societies.

Article 42 of the mass media law recognises the creation and performance of media complaints and of an offences-review commission to be active under the Ministry of Information and Culture. This commission oversees all private media sectors across the country. It has nine members that include the Information Minister, the Communication Deputy Minister, and representatives of parliament’s both houses, of the Supreme Court, of civil society and the media sector. The commission meets each Sunday and reviews all complaints. It has no committee to review the content of media outlets, although it should. It is headed by the Minister of Information and Culture. The critics are claiming that if the government complains against any media outlet, the ministry will be not impartial while reviewing the complaint.

The procedure of the commission is to review the complaints and the offenses and consider if they need to be sent to the Attorney’s office or not. If so, it refers the complaints or offenses to the Attorney’s office. If not, it just notifies the media outlet and those who complained.

Technically there is also a regulatory body. The Afghanistan Telecommunication Regulatory Body (ATRA) oversees all technical performances of electronic media outlets, radio, TV and Internet. It is an independent body assigned by the president to examine any technical offences of media outlets, for example using different bandwidth, not the proper frequency, excessive power output, etc.