Friday, November 19, 2010

Radio Azadi launches interactive SMS service

Radio Azadi, Radio Free Europe's Afghan station, has launched an interactive SMS service that is connecting the station more directly with its audience, especially villagers in remote, inaccessible regions who are often cut off from news and information. Thanks to a recent partnership between RFE and mobile service provider Etisalat, mobile phone users in Afghanistan can now subscribe to free SMS news updates and emergency alerts from Radio Azadi.

“The exciting thing is that it’s not just Radio Azadi sending news to subscribers,” says RFE Associate Director of Broadcasting Akbar Ayazi. “It’s our subscribers sending news back to us. Since the project launched less than a month ago, we’ve already received more than 5,000 text messages from people all around the country - this ‘citizen journalism’ is unique in Afghanistan.”

Each morning and evening, Etisalat customers who subscribe to the free service receive news headlines from Radio Azadi in either Dari or Pashto. They also get SMS messages on their phones with breaking news and emergency alerts. In addition to texts, Mr Ayazi says subscribers will soon be able to send Radio Azadi photos and videos from their mobile devices. He says the station has launched a new weekly programme in which many of the SMS messages it receives are read on the air.

Despite being one of the poorest countries in the world, Afghanistan has 17 million mobile phone subscriptions out of a population of 29 million.
(Source: RFE/RL/R Netherlands Media Network Weblog)