Afghan Media Mogul Compares American Cable News to 'Professional Wrestling'

During a recent visit to New York, Saad Mohseni, founder of the largest media company in Afghanistan, said some U.S. cable news networks "could learn a lot from the Afghans."

"U.S. news cable operators tend to basically reinforce the viewers’ political views," Mohseni said last week at Asia Society in New York. "A couple, their reporting is fairly objective, but more often than not they tend to be entertainment channels. Some of the news channels are not that different to professional wrestling from where we stand."

Mohseni founded the Moby Group in 2002, not long after the removal of the Taliban government. The company now includes some of Afghanistan's most trusted television and radio brands, including Tolo TV, Tolo News, Lemar TV, Farsi1 and Arman FM. In February, Tolo News broadcast the first live televised presidential debate in the country's history.

"Afghans, if they were watching Fox News or MSNBC, would be very surprised because they would view their sort of very editorial lines on certain issues as something quite odd," Mohseni continued. "Because Afghan media generally tends to be very much objective — look at every issue and balance it and look at both sides. So they would be surprised. They would probably not even view it as a news channel. They would see it more as an entertainment channel."

Mohseni — who was a member of Asia Society's inaugural class of Asia 21 Young Leaders in 2006 — was at Asia Society to serve as a panelist in a program entitled "Changing the Narrative of Afghanistan's Future," which you can watch in its entirety here.

About the Author

Profile picture for user Dan Washburn

Dan Washburn is Asia Society's Chief Content Officer. The Financial Times named his book, The Forbidden Game: Golf and the Chinese Dream, one of the best of 2014.