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Radio Free Afghanistan Listening Rates Rise As Country Establishes Democracy

(Washington, DC--December 10, 2004) Nearly two thirds of Afghan radio listeners are tuning in to Radio Free Afghanistan, according to the results of a new survey conducted for RFE/RL by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).

The survey showed a nationwide weekly listening rate of 61.6 percent to RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan broadcasts in Dari and Pashto, a rate that rises to 70 percent in the capital city of Kabul.

"This kind of penetration demonstrates the importance of support for U.S. international broadcasting," said BBG chairman Kenneth Y. Tomlinson. "Through their listening habits, the people are demonstrating that U.S. radios are critical to their future -- to Afghanistan's future."

RFE/RL President Thomas A. Dine noted especially Radio Free Afghanistan's reputation for objectivity, professionalism and its attention to overcoming ethnic differences: "We are proud of what Radio Free Afghanistan has achieved in the past three years. Our emphasis on helping the entire country rise from the chaos of a quarter century of war is clearly appreciated by our listeners."

RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan and the Voice of America (VOA) broadcast on a 24-hour single stream in Afghanistan. RFA provides local news and VOA supplies news about events around the world. The U.S. Congress appropriated funding to create Radio Free Afghanistan in December 2001, as part of an effort to build a peaceful and democratic Afghanistan following the successful U.S.-lead strike against the Taliban.

When asked about the reliability of the news and information broadcast, strong majorities in the survey considered RFA and VOA to be trustworthy. Asked about general issues, 54 percent said they are favorable inclined toward the USA, 64 percent say things in Afghanistan are headed in the right direction, and, when asked to name the first thing that comes to mind when speaking of the USA, 40 percent said U.S. support for reconstruction of Afghanistan.

InterMedia Survey Institute conducted the survey for the BBG from August 17 to October 2, 2004, interviewing 3,169 adults 15 and older in Kabul, Herat, Balkh, Nangarhar and Kandahar Provinces in Afghanistan. The margin of error was plus/minus 1.7 percent.