BBC News Extends Reach in Afghanistan

BBC News

The BBC services for Afghanistan have grown by nearly 80 percent over the past four years, the BBC Global Audience Measure (GAM) for 2018 has shown.

Content from the BBC News Pashto and BBC News Dari as well as BBC News Persian and BBC News Uzbek now reaches a weekly audience of 11.8m – more than 60 percent of the country’s adult population.

BBC World Service Near East Region Editor, Saleem Patka, says: “The fact that the BBC is now serving more than 60 percent of people in Afghanistan every week on radio, TV and digital is a remarkable achievement for an international broadcaster.

“It is a clear sign of the close relationship between the BBC’s Pashto, Dari, Persian and Uzbek services and their audiences in the country – as well as our strategic Afghan broadcasting partners across platforms, who have contributed immensely to helping us reach this audience. We look forward to further strengthening those connections in the coming years.”

TV platform accounts for most of the BBC’s growth in Afghanistan. Audience of BBC News Pashto TV grew more than threefold, to 5.3m (BBC’s overall weekly reach in Pashto in the country is 8.3m). BBC News Persian TV audience more than doubled to 5.6m. Launched less than a year ago, BBC News Uzbek TV programme for Afghanistan is delivering a massive weekly audience of 1.8m.

Thanks to new rebroadcasting partnerships with radio stations in Afghanistan, the audience of BBC News Dari programming has also grown by 1.4m since 2014, now reaching 4.3m every week.

BBC News Afghan Editor Meena Baktash says: “I am proud of every member of our team in Afghanistan and in the UK for their hard work. We have grown our audience by understanding and prioritising their needs and by introducing new content which differs immensely from local and other international media in Afghanistan. We let people talk to us and to each other, share and exchange solutions to their day-to-day issues – and it’s a great reward for all of us to see such a major expansion of our reach.”

The BBC GAM 2018 also has shown that women make up around half of the BBC’s audience in Afghanistan. Around 40 percent of all BBC audience in Afghanistan are young people aged 15-24.

BBC News services rank above all other media in Afghanistan, national or international, for trustworthiness, independence and reliability. The BBC also leads in Afghanistan on measures to do with helping people understanding the news and what is essential to know, and informing their world view.

In Afghanistan, the BBC offers TV programmes in Pashto – on Shamshad TV, in Persian – on Yak TV and in Uzbek – on Arezo TV (the programmes are also streamed online and are available on the services’ YouTube channels). Every week, around 650,000 people in Afghanistan engage with the BBC’s news services via social media.

Around 780,000 people in the country watch the English-language TV channel, BBC World News TV, and access the English-language website, every week.

The BBC’s international development charity, BBC Media Action, which produces political debate show Open Jirga (Azada Jerga in Pashto and Jerg e Azad in Dari) and family-health radio programme in Pashto, BBC Ghamai (BBC Jewel), engages an audience of 1.1m people a week in Afghanistan on radio and TV.

BBC News Dari, BBC News Pashto, BBC News Persian and BBC News Uzbek are all part of the BBC World Service.

The GAM for 2018 has shown that the BBC World Service, which has just undertaken its biggest expansion since the 1940s, has seen its audience increase by 10m, to 279m. The BBC’s total global news audience is 347m.