Television and Radio pave the way for change in The Network
Taking Place in Afghanistan after the removal of the Taliban, this documentary tells the story about the development of TOLO TV, a broadcasting station within the city of Kabul. With Afghanistan having very underdeveloped areas and having been repressed by The Taliban for a number of years, there was an audience yearning for some type of media in order for the people of Afghanistan to gain a unified self-image and modernization.
After being suspended for a number of years, Radio Kabul was relaunched November 2001 and gained a wide audience almost over night. The success of the radio station prompts the owners of station to begin building more towers to push into the next level of broadcast, television. With a novice crew of young Afgans, the station pushes forward generating content for the people of Afghanistan, even reaching rural areas, where televisions are powered by car batteries. Knowing that in order to keep the momentum of the station going, the quality of programing had to go up, so foreigners are brought in to teach the young crew members how to properly create television shows and how to work in a professional environment.
With these mentors, TOLO TV begins its journey to becoming a tool for social change. They showed things such as a woman’s hijab falling down accidentally to causes outrage among more conservative Afgans but helps push forward ideas for social change. Several years after the broadcasted incident, woman without hijabs are shown and cause less outrage than before.
Even within the structure of the company, women begin to elevate their positions among their fellow male counterparts while outside the company they must conform to what society expects of them.
With TOLO TV realizing its place among the people of Afghanistan, they begin to introduce ideas to the public that have never before been remotely considered. A TV show about traveling around the country became a major sensation and even involved a trip to the United States. Although, the darker issues become apparent when crew members abandoned the TV show to live in the U.S.
With Afghanistan still dealing with issues of danger from extremists, members of TOLO TV begin to talk about how independent media is important to the country and its crucial part in developing a future for Afghanistan. With an independent broadcast media being an essential part of a democracy, the question arises of whether or not the station will be able to maintain itself after the foreign troops pull out of the country and are no longer there to protect the people.
The Network proves to be a well-shot and engaging documentary that sheds light on a critical issue. Although at times the film drags, the the information is well worth the wait.