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RFE/RL’s Afghan Service: Radio Azadi

RFE/RL's Radio Azadi is the leading media outlet in Afghanistan today, reaching 36 percent of the Afghan population across the country with its radio, SMS, and internet programs.

Fast Facts

  • Languages: Pashto, Dari
  • Established: 1985-1993, resumed 2002
  • Distribution: Radio (FM, AM, SW, satellite), Internet (website, mobile, social, YouTube)
  • Coverage: 12 hours daily (7:00AM to 7:00 PM Kabul time)
  • Locations: Prague, Kabul
  • Staff: 31 (Prague), 46 (Kabul), 17 stringers in Afghanistan, two in Pakistan, one in Iran

Media Environment

  • Freedom House Freedom of the Press Index, 2016: Not Free (62nd/100)
  • Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, 2016: 120th/180
  • Journalists in Afghanistan are under constant threat of violence and intimidation from warlords, the Taliban, and other extremists. Attempts have also been made to restrict media freedom in the name of “respect for Islamic values.” Defamation can be punished with imprisonment and/or a fine, while the punishment for blasphemy can be death.
  • The number of private television and radio stations has grown in Afghanistan considerably (from 22 in 2012 to 35 in 2015), leading to increased competition among media operating in the country.


  • Research shows that Radio Azadi is one of the most popular and trusted media outlets in Afghanistan. One of the leading news sources inside the country, its programs provide reliable information on the war on terror and extremism, corruption, warlordism, narcotics, human rights, and other major political and socio-economic issues.
  • Radio Azadi’s video journalists produce videos and photo galleries for distribution online documenting major events in the country and the lives of women, youth, and internally displaced people.
  • Working with a local mobile company, Radio Azadi’s free SMS news alerts reach 500,000 subscribers four times a day. In addition, people can send Radio Azadi their SMS texts and photos free of charge. As a result, Radio Azadi receives up to 200 messages a day from citizen journalists.
  • Approximately 47 percent of the Afghan population is between the ages of 25-45. “New Thoughts” and the “Colors of Life” are feature programs that profile youth and women leaders, and explore issues of concern to young people in Afghanistan.
  • Call-in shows and roundtables are central to Radio Azadi's programming. As a result, despite decades of violence inside the country, it has developed a culture of debate and discussion among its listeners on local and major national and international issues. Through its unique program “In Search of Loved Ones,” Radio Azadi helps reunite families who have lost relatives to violence and war.
  • In March 2016, a number of Afghan Service journalists in Kabul received medals and letters of appreciation, among them were the golden medal of Sayed Jamalludin Afghan from the president of Afghanistan, and a certificate of appreciation by the Afghanistan Journalist Federation.
  • In an example of impactful video reporting, a report about an Afghan woman suffering from a large tumor on her head caught the attention of an Afghan MP who arranged for the woman to get treatment in Pakistan.
  • Radio Azadi supports the Haseeba Shaheed Memorial Fellowship annually to provide mentoring and support to aspiring women journalists in Afghanistan.

Updated: 26 April 2016

Facts & Stats about Afghanistan

  • Population: 31.63 million (World Bank estimate, 2014)
  • Most Common Languages: Dari, Pashto, Uzbek, Turkmen, Balochi
  • Press Freedom Index (Freedom House): Not Free, ranked 62 out of 100 (2016)
  • Press Freedom Index (RSF): 120 out of 180 (2016)
  • Corruption Index (Transparency Int.): 166 out of 168 (2015)
  • Global Peace Index (IES): 160 out of 162 (2016)
  • Human Rights Watch: Report on Afghanistan (2016)
  • Amnesty International: Afghanistan Report (2015/2016)​