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Ariana Television journalists resign in a group

 

Kabul, Feb. 16, 2012

Seven journalists of Ariana Television resigned collectively due to “increasing restrictions and self censorship coming from internal and external sources.”

The resigned staff included Naseer Fayaz, director and producer of political programs, Ali Kazemi director and reporter of sports programs, Mustafa Sadat, director and Amin Babak the presenter of a political program, Ahmad Sameer Bayat, news anchor, Latif Mahmood director of economical programs, and Ajmal Alemzai, news and political program presenter.

Naseer Fayaz told Afghanistan Journalists Center that the restriction in workplace and the pressure of internal and external sources were the main cause for his and his six colleagues’ resignation.

According to Mr. Fayaz, the managerial team continuously interfered in different political and news programs, trying to support one particular side and favor particular groups through news or political programs.

He said, “These pressures and unprofessional actions of management and outside circles made the working environment really boring for us. Before this, they had suspended the political and analytical programs of Haqiqat and Zawya, and rejected the making of a similar program Gaam ba Gaam”.

Mr. Fayaz added, “The television management team continuously made efforts not to cover the stories that they found to be against their own interest or against the interest of Afghan government or some particular parties.”

According to presenter and director of political programs of Ariana TV, the pressures of outside sources were the main cause of self censorship in this media.

Giving a specific example of the pressures Mr. Fayaz said, “While interviewing the Iranian ambassador to Afghanistan, Feda Hussain Maleki, in one of our programs, I asked him that as an ambassador how he could dare to call Afghanistan an invaded country? And Mr. Maleki responded that invasion does not have horn or tail. He mentioned the house raids and Afghan women body search by foreign troops as examples.”

Mr. Fayaz said that even though the Iranian ambassador made no request not to broadcast the program, but airing his interview caused the suspension of Zawya political and analytical program.

Azizullah Aral, Ariana Television deputy head spoke to Afghanistan Journalists Center, but requested that his opinion should not be reflected in any ways.

Mr. Aral earlier told BBC that the Iranian ambassador’s interview with Ariana television “had some minor shortcomings that had discomforted them.” But the matter was resolved by intermediation of media violations observation commission.

Ariana Television managers said that suspension of Zawya program and the resignation of their seven employees were not related to this matter.

The media violations observation commission has also acknowledged that the Iranian embassy had complained from Ariana TV and their complaint was being observed.

Ahmad Quraishi, the Afghan ambassador to Center of International Media Ethics (CIME) expressed concerns over the increasing pressure and unprofessional demands. Mr. Quraishi said that putting pressure on journalists and using them as tools for personal gains is against the international media ethical guidelines; and shall therefore be stopped.

According to Mr. Quraishi, some media organizations take advantage of journalists’ economical situation during the contract signing and then make them provide unprofessional and unethical programs.

He added, “Unfortunately, there is no unified code of ethics that will be acceptable to all media organizations. And while some media organizations do not even have any ethical codes, others violate it due to their ties with political, religious or tribal parties and groups.”

The Afghan ambassador to CIME said that media organizations must obey the acceptable media ethical codes, and try hard in institutionalization professional and impartial media activities.