Television was first introduced in 1964, when a new organization called Radio Television Afghanistan (government-owned) founded a TV channel. After the completion of feasibility study under grant aid from Japan, construction work of the studio and transmitter buildings were finished by August 1978. During the 1980s, many Soviet programmes were airing such as the children's show Nu Pogodi!.
From 1992 onwards television went into a steep decline as a result of war in the city of Kabul, destroying infrastructure.
During the Taliban rule between 1996 and 2001, television was strictly banned. Stores were not allowed to sell TVs, satellite dishes, VCRs, or other similar technologic entertainment. Anyone owning or watching TV was arrested and punished. The national television broadcaster was closed down, whilst private broadcasters' buildings and studios were smashed by the regime's police.
Territory that was controlled by the moderate rival Northern Alliance meanwhile did not have any restrictions on television. However the Northern Alliance's only major city was Mazar-i-Sharif, which itself fell to the Taliban in 1998, and at its peak the Taliban controlled 90% of the country. In the country's northeast in the province of Badakhshan, a television channel financed by the Northern Alliance broadcast news and movies to approximately 5,000 people in the city of Fayzabad. When the Karzai administration came to power in December 2001, television service was preparing to be re-introduced soon after, with RTA launching again the following year after German funding built broadcasting buildings in Kabul.
In July 2010 authorities closed down a private television station, Emrooz TV, due to its controversial religious content.
It was reported in 2011 that as many as 76 television channels are available in Afghanistan, 36 of them in the capital of Kabul. They are broadcasting news, entertainment, religious, sports and cultural programs with each channel having its own viewers.
Most people in Afghanistan prefer to watch TV in the evening, between 7pm to 11pm. As of 2012, there are believed to be about 76 television channels in the country.
Audience share per channel
According to the Apama Research Group in a nationwide research study conducted in October 2011, Tolo TV and Shamshad TV are in a virtual neck-and-neck tie:Tolo TV has an audience share of 29%; Shamshad tv share of audience is 21%, Kabul News TV 17%, Ariana TV 10%, Lemar TV 9%, 1d TV 5%, Afghan TV 4%, and 26% for others.
This compares to data taken in 2010, which showed results once dominated by Tolo TV.
Audience share per channel, by city
This study was consulted by Altai Consulting in July 2010:Herat: Tolo TV has an audience share of 30%, followed by Lemar TV (29%) Zhwandoon TV (17%), RTA (5%), Shamshad TV (5%), Afghan TV (4%), and 13% of all other available channels.
Jalalabad: Shamshad TV has an audience share of 40%, followed by Ariana TV (15%), RTA (13%), Tolo TV (9%), Zhwandoon (7%), and 16% of all other available channels.
Kabul: Tolo TV has an audience share of 22%, followed by Shamshad TV (15%), Ariana TV (11%), Zhwandoon TV (10%), RTA, Afghan TV, Lemar TV and 1TV (7%), and 14% of all other available channels.
Notice: Emrooz TV is now closedKandahar: Shamshad TV has an audience share of 34%, followed by Ariana TV (26%), Lemar TV and Hewad TV (13%), Yak 1TV, RTA (3%), and 6% of all other available channels.
Khost: Lemar TV has an audience share of 38%, followed by Shamshad TV (23%), RTA (20%), Ariana TV and Tolo TV (9%), and 1% of all other available channels.
Mazar-E-Sharif: Shamshad TV has an audience share of 30%, followed by KabulNews TV (21%), Ariana TV (11%), Tolo TV (10%), Arezo (9%), Lemar TV (7%), Afghan TV (4%) and 8% of all other available channels.
As of January 2016:Herat has 18 available channels.
Jalalabad has 8 available channels.
Kabul has 36 available channels.
Kandahar has 9 available channels.
Kunduz has 6 available channels.
Takhar has 7 available channels.
Khost has 6 available channels.
Mazar-i-Sharif has 11 available channels.
In Afghanistan, many people watch TV through traditional analog terrestrial signals using indoor antennas (some outdoors too). There are also satellite television viewers - but those are for watching foreign channels, mainly European, American, Indian, Turkish, Pakistani, and Iranian. In the last few years, there have also been a fast-growing number of cable television providers and viewers, with the newest houses in the country connected to cable networks.
On January 2013 Afghanistan's Ministry of Communication and Information Technology has held a meeting with TV broadcasters on plans to switch from analogue to digital transmission systems. Afghanistan has adopted the DVB-T2 standard and the switchover would begin in Kabul.