By Farrell Meisel*
I have not worked with a more enterprising group of professionals in my career, not before or since my two-year posting in Kabul, Afghanistan. There, I managed what became the country’s second-largest independently-owned media company (groupOne Media), led by a feisty and creative private national commercial channel (1TV). We produced groundbreaking and award-winning news and current affairs, original local entertainment programming, and top-rated formats. We also acquired finished content, utilizing digital platforms.
My position there was a most exciting, fruitful, and challenging one, despite the ongoing rockets, gunfire, and other violence that erupted constantly all around us.
Our budgets were not large, but we made up for that with original information and entertainment content. My team realized that our content was indeed saving lives.
CNN reported on our landmark current affairs program, The Mask, calling it and 1TV: “Revolutionary TV” for its “risk-taking” content.
I was disheartened to see the chaos when American troops pulled out so haphazardly as if there was no plan. I don’t disagree that it was time to leave, but the way it was done was embarrassing and looked dysfunctional.
Many of my colleagues are now stuck in Kabul. They fear, and rightly so, for horrific assaults by the Taliban, that have already reportedly started.
My colleagues at my former company, and those of other media companies in Afghanistan, are at greater risk than most people because they not only developed global skills, with extensive training, but they also embraced free speech and a free press, which is eschewed by the Taliban.
The skill sets these Afghan broadcasters have acquired can productively be put to work for Western media organizations.
It’s important that they are not forgotten. The people of Afghanistan need to be saved. And those who want to leave and become citizens of new countries should be allowed to do so.
*Farrell Meisel is an international broadcaster, who has launched, managed, and consulted with media companies worldwide. Pictured above is Meisel (center) with his team leaders at 1TV Afghanistan in May 2012.