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IFJ questions closure of broadcaster

(IFJ/IFEX) - 29 July 2010 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate, the Afghan Independent Journalists' Association (AIJA), in demanding the reversal of a decision by officials in Afghanistan to shut down broadcaster Emroaz TV.

The station, owned by Afghan parliamentarian Najibullah Kabuli, was closed on July 27 following claims by the Government that "the television channel was fuelling religious tensions and harming national unity."

Kabuli claims the closure is politically motivated, following allegations reported by Emroaz of Iranian interference in Afghan political affairs. The Governments of Afghanistan and Iran deny these claims.

Emroaz TV has also been criticised in the past for broadcasting music videos and soap operas containing content deemed immoral and out of line with traditional Islamic standards.

The station's youth focus - which has led to programs such as a modelling competition - has reportedly proved popular with its target audience and advertisers.

"Afghanistan's transition to democracy would surely benefit from a diversity of voices and opinions, not a narrowing of views and closure of media outlets," IFJ General Secretary Aidan White said.

"We urge the Government of Afghanistan to explore other avenues for resolving this dispute, so that media diversity and democracy can flourish in the country."

The IFJ also supports AIJA in its request to Emroaz TV to respect the ethics and values of the Afghan people, and to understand the role of an independent and credible media in political and social affairs.

AIJA and the IFJ remind the Government of President Hamid Karzai of the commitment to press freedom in the country's Constitution and encourage a prompt and fair resolution to the disputed closure.
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