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Taliban Imposes 'Severe' Rules For Afghan Media, Group Says

The Taliban has ordered Afghan media to broadcast audio clips and videos of Taliban propaganda.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) says the Taliban is imposing "very severe constraints" on the media -- even if they are not yet official -- in an effort to gain control over information despite the hard-line Islamist group's pledge to respect press freedom.

The Taliban is "increasing threats, pressures, and sometimes violence" against journalists, while the list of obligations for them "grows longer every day," the Paris-based media-freedom watchdog said in a statement on August 24.

At least 10 journalists have been threatened or assaulted while carrying out their work in the streets of Kabul and Jalalabad in the space of a week, RSF said, adding that about 100 private local media across the country ceased their activity as soon as the Taliban arrived.

"In a week, the Taliban beat five journalists and cameramen from our channel," RSF quoted a producer from a private national television channel as saying on condition of anonymity due to security reasons.

"They control everything we broadcast. In the field, the Taliban commanders systematically take the numbers of our reporters. They tell them, 'When you prepare your story, you say this and that.' If they say something else, they are threatened."

Meanwhile, media outlets have been forced to suspend part of their programs because the new rulers in Kabul ordered them to respect Islamic law, according to RSF.

"The series, the social programs, have been stopped. We only broadcast short news bulletins and archival documentaries," an official of a private television station told the watchdog.

A director of a private radio station north of Kabul told RSF that Taliban militants had "started to 'guide' us on the information that we could or not broadcast and on what they consider to be fair information."

In recent days, RSF said, the Taliban had ordered Afghan media to broadcast audio clips and videos of Taliban propaganda.

The foreign correspondents who remained in the capital are not "subject to these diktats and manage to work almost normally, but for how long?" the group asked.

"We benefit from the fact that the Taliban is still seeking legitimacy and the arrival in recent days of major international television channels, it protects us. The real difficulties will begin when we are alone again," it quoted a foreign journalist as saying.

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