Afghanistan's Taliban rulers released a new religious guideline on Sunday (Nov 21), ordering the country's television broadcasters to discontinue airing dramas and soap operas starring female actresses.
The Taliban also urged female television journalists to wear Islamic hijabs while delivering their stories in the first such instruction to Afghan media issued by the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.
Additionally, the Ministry requested that the stations refrain from airing films or programming featuring the Prophet Mohammed or other revered figures.
It advocated for the prohibition of films and television programs that were antithetical to Islamic and Afghan principles.
"These are not rules but a religious guideline," Hakif Mohajir, the Ministry's spokesman, told Agence France-Presse.
The new directive was rapidly distributed on social media networks late Sunday.
Despite their assurances that they will rule more moderately this time, the Taliban have already imposed restrictions on what women can wear to university and beaten and harassed many Afghan journalists, despite their promise to protect press freedoms.
The Taliban's guideline for television networks follows two decades of spectacular expansion for independent Afghan media under Western-backed governments that ruled the country until Aug 15, when Islamists reclaimed power.
Immediately following the Taliban's overthrow in 2001, dozens of television channels and radio stations were established with Western support and private funding.
Afghan television networks have broadcast a diverse range of programming over the last two decades, including an American Idol-style singing competition, music videos, and various Turkish and Indian soap operas.
When the Islamists previously controlled from 1996 to 2001, there was no Afghan media – they prohibited television, movies, and the majority of all forms of entertainment, believing them sinful.
Individuals caught viewing television faced severe penalties, including having their television set shattered. Possessing a video player may result in public flogging.
There was just one radio station broadcasting propaganda and Islamic programming, Voice of Sharia.