Ethiopia is finally getting non-state owned TV stations.

[SIZE=6]Power of the dishNew television channels in Ethiopia may threaten state control
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News programmes are likely to follow soaps and game shows

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Middle East and Africa
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Dec 9th 2016, 00:00
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STROLL through Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, and everywhere you will see satellite dishes, sprouting mushroom-like from roofs, gardens and balconies. “People have roofs to repair, but they are buying satellite dishes instead,” chuckles Abel Adamu, a lecturer at the Addis Ababa School of Journalism. “Wherever you go in Ethiopia, it is the satellite dish that comes first.”

The proliferation of these dishes symbolises the frustration that Ethiopia’s 90m citizens feel with state-owned television. But after years of hankering for a choice in what they can watch, Ethiopians are fast becoming spoilt for one. Four private satellite channels have launched so far this year. More are on the way. Kana TV, which first broadcast in March, has taken the country by storm. Shops and cafés across the country have renamed themselves after it. Conservative commentators decry its foreign soap operas, dubbed into Amharic, for corrupting Ethiopian culture.

The new channels are aimed at Ethiopians and have offices in Addis Ababa but get their broadcast licences from overseas. So far they have stuck to light entertainment, but a slew of news and current-affairs programmes are reportedly in the pipeline. More significantly still, in October the Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority (EBA) announced that it was granting licences to three privately owned satellite channels, a first in the agency’s history. It says it also plans to grant licences to private terrestrial ones early next year.

Not before time. Ethiopians have long been denied vibrant local media. Internet penetration is among the lowest on the continent, and since the government declared a state of emergency in October, following civil unrest, mobile internet services were stopped throughout most of the country until last week.The government also has a fearsome reputation for jailing journalists.There are a handful of independent newspapers, which can on occasion be critical of the government, but they are few in number. Also that month an established local rag, the Addis Standard, announced it was suspending print operations, citing censorship.

But television has been especially crimped. Two opposition-affiliated stations based in America are banned. Until this year, switching on the TV meant choosing between state-owned channels—of which the largest is the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC)—or the mainly foreign-language ones beamed into the country from abroad. Arab shows, such as those that broadcast via Nilesat, an Egyptian satellite company, were enormously popular. Concerned parents reported coming home to find their children speaking Arabic. The exception was the Ethiopian Broadcasting Service (EBS), an Amharic-language station based in America that launched in 2008 and was the only serious rival to the EBC until the arrival of Nahoo TV in January this year.

The dearth of private local channels was not due to legal obstacles. The constitution permits both public and private media. But at the very least the government did little to encourage the latter. This is changing. “We are trying our best to help them,” says Zeray Asgedom, the EBA’s director. There is a recognition inside the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) that squeezing private media was a mistake. “Opening up should have happened earlier,” Mr Asgedom admits. The lack of credible independent news left the field open to social-media propagandists, which helped to inflame unrest over the past year, he says. Perhaps so. Analysts agree that the government was hoist with its own petard.

Still, there is some way to go yet. Producing alternative news will be difficult, since the EBC enjoys a near-monopoly on information and access to ministers. And Ethiopian media have “a long history of co-option and capture”, notes Iginio Gagliardone of Oxford University. Indeed, the channels so far licensed by the EBA are not entirely independent of the state. But the signs are positive. So long as Ethiopians stock up on satellite dishes, controlling what they watch will be harder.

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Wako nyuma sana.

kama mkia wa mbuzi. And everyday we are being bombarded with propaganda of how Ethiopia is overtaking us.

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Short of banning satellite dishes and receivers, there’s little else they can do to stop the inevitable.

Controlling 90 million people under stupid laws is not easy.

It’s interesting to see folks commenting with certainty about a lot of things, which they don’t know or understand. I really wish Kenyans and many other Africans learn about other African countries themselves rather than from “the Economist”. As much as Kenyans are the jolliest, open and nice people, with all due respect, your almost worship of Western Europeans and everything they have to say is a bit disappointing… :frowning:

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I agree, brother.

Look at China. During the 70s and 80s, The Economist criticized almost all their policies. Yet today, it’s the largest economy in the world.

Congratulations, you guys.

Also, not every Kenyan worships the West.

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Can you tell us what the Economist got wrong about the mass media situation in Ethiopia. Personally I posted not to make fun of Ethiopia but to celebrate that you’re getting along. Unless you think private media is not advancement.

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Brother,

There is and there has been (for the last 26 years) a private media in Ethiopia. What we don’t have is a kind of much wider room for private media, which you have. As far as TV is concerned, having a satellite dish has never been and is NOT ILLIGAL. There are also couple of more privately owned TV stations in the country, which the Economist purposefully omitted. Granted that they are not political news channells. They focus on entertainment & human stories. The beef that the economist has with Ethiopia is that the telecom industry is not privatized. They hate that an African country and it’s government is able to say “when, what, where, who and how much”. They want their telecom giants to get a piece of a potential market of a hundred million people. They hate Ethiopia’s ambition to launch its own satellite by 2020, like South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria, because buying their satellite service will not be required, then. Hence, they trash everything without merit.

Brother,

This is the same “The Economist” that a decade ago declared a continent of ONE BILLION people " A hopeless continent". They couldn’t even envision that a hundred, among one billion of us could be “hopeful”. They are vultures, who don’t think people as talking breathing souls, but just “markets”. Though I very much hate almost everything he does, one of the things I highly admire about Eritrean president Isayas Afeworqi is that he doesn’t give a f*** about what the west think of him, his country or about their opinion about anything…

Having said that…I agree with you that we need to work a whole lot harder to have a greater press freedom in our country. We are not where you are, yet…

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journalists are entitled to their opinions, and the Economist is not an Authority on anything. The articles to me are just opinionated. That’s what freedom of expression is.

Huh?

I thought journalists are supposed to be objective rather than opinionated…Well, what do I now?! :slight_smile:

bias is a difficult thing to be eliminated as long as one is human, even the the U.S. media stations are not objectves,and some do not even try to hide their bias

hehehe, welcome to the new world. Check this links for some op-eds, editorials and opinion pieces

http://www.nytimes.com/pages/opinion/index.html
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/dec/30/the-60-most-read-opinion-pieces-of-2015
http://edition.cnn.com/opinions