One an hardly turn on a television or radio in Afghanistan these days without hearing self-proclaimed “public service announcements” urging the audience to support the US occupation, and demand President Hamid Karzai sign off on the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA).
The Afghan government investigated the proliferation of ads, and unsurprisingly found they are being bankrolled by NATO, the Pentagon, and USAID. There is now talk of limiting the ads, and one TV spot showing “ordinary Afghans” supporting the occupation has been blocked from future broadcast.
Afghan media watchdogs are expressing concern that this is a dangerous precedent, and that blocking pro-occupation ads paid for by the occupying power is a threat to “freedom of speech.”
From the perspective of media companies in Afghanistan, however, this is just about money. In a nation with virtually no economy and a massive occupying force with virtually limitless funds, pro-occupation PSAs are one of the few reliable sources of ad revenue out there.