By Matt Gillis
Censorship is no new development in the field of advertising in the United States. Over time, advertisements promoting sexual themes, violence or substance abuse have been pulled from the media landscape in an effort to protect a healthy cultural image.
While some believe the removal of advertisements in the United States hinders a company’s right to freedom of speech, most understand that advertisements promoting negative subjects are reasonably censored. However, countries like Afghanistan are facing media censorship that not only limits freedom of speech but also obstructs their progress toward cultural independence.
Recently, the Afghan government has begun shutting down television spots airing advertisements that support United States involvement in Afghanistan. Due to their disagreements with Washington, the government will continue to censor advertisements promoting United States troops after 2014.
The United States funded advertisements, including one that was aired by Afghanistan’s most widely watched broadcaster, are being censored after several weeks of broadcast due to their content; They encourage President Hamid Karzai to sign a security pact that would allow United States troops to stay in Afghanistan.
The commercials feature interviews with Afghanistan’s own citizens who also support Karzai’s signing of the pact, saying, “You should accept the people’s demand and sign this as soon as possible.”
The advertisements were taken off the air after the source of their funding was put under investigation. Karzai’s censorship actions are part of his latest hostility toward Washington, and he cites that the United States is doing too little to fight terrorism after the country experienced a deadly restaurant attack.
Since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, over 150 radio stations, 50 televisions stations and 1,000 newspapers have developed. However, Afghanistan’s media censorship as a way of limiting freedom of speech has inhibited the country’s progress toward media independence.
While these media outlets understand that the source of funding of these political advertisements was from ISAF, they aimed to treat the content with similar terms and conditions as they would an advertisement from any other company.
As I understand it, advertising in the United States, for the most part, is a protected practice under our constitutional right to freedom of speech. While censorship in the United States is used as a means of promoting a healthy society, censorship in other parts of the world is used as means of control.
In the case of Afghanistan, does advertising have the power to establish freedom?
– Afghanistan Cracks Down on Advertising in Favor of US Troops. (2014, January 22). VOA. Retrieved January 23, 2014, from http://www.voanews.com/content/reu-afghnistan-cracks-down-on-advertising-in-favor-of-us-troops/1835097.html
– Shalizi, H. (2014, January 22). Afghanistan cracks down on commercials that favour U.S. troops. Reuters. Retrieved January 23, 2014, from http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/22/us-afghanistan-us-advertising-idUSBREA0L0OT20140122
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