Media in Ethiopia

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The Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation headquarters in Addis Ababa

The mass media in Ethiopia consist of radio, television and the Internet, which remain under the control of the Ethiopian government, as well as private newspapers and magazines. Ten radio broadcast stations, eight AM and two shortwave, are licensed to operate in Ethiopia. The major radio broadcasting stations include Radio Ethiopia, Radio Fana (or "Torch") a private station, Radio Voice of One Free Ethiopia, and the Voice of the Revolution of Tigray. The only terrestrial (broadcast) television networks are government owned and include Ethiopian Television (24 hours of broadcast) and other regional stations ( i.e. Addis TV, TV Oromiyaa, Amhara TV). In keeping with government policy, radio broadcasts occur in a variety of languages including Amharic, Afaan Oromo, Tigrigna, and more.[1] There are also many video sharing websites which are a popular way of getting information as well as entertainment in Ethiopia.

Satellite television has been very popular in Ethiopia for many years, with people often watching foreign channels in English and Arabic due to the lack of choice in the Ethiopian Television industry. For many years the only private satellite channel in Ethiopia was EBS TV (established in 2008). However, starting in 2016 a number of new satellite channels serving the Ethiopian market started broadcasting in the main local language of Amharic. Many of these new channels focused on infotainment, as this type of programming had been for the most part lacking in the past. Most popular of these channels being Kana TV, who focused on providing dubbed foreign dramas, very popular in Ethiopia, to their audiences.[2] Since the end of the Ethiopian Civil War private newspapers and magazines have started to appear, and this sector of the media market, despite heavy-handed regulation from the government and the ups and downs of Ethiopia's economy, continues to grow. Despite increasing pressure from the current government at home, the much more affluent and cosmopolitan Ethiopian diaspora abroad has helped further the cause for a free press in Ethiopia, and has also catered to its many extra-national communities with news services (both online and off) in both Amharic and English.


There have been three major forces involved in the evolution of media in Ethiopia: (1) the need to communicate information about Ethiopia to the external world in order to create an international awareness of Ethiopia and its leaders, (2) the need for internal communication to provide information and to develop a sense of national identity and, later (3) the need to utilize media for education and the development of a healthy and literate work force. The first two of the three forces came into play in the late 1920s when it was decided that Ethiopia should have a radio system. Ras Tafari Mekonnen (later atse Haile Selassie I) was especially interested at this time in the new technology of wireless communication and "initiated many radio projects with the object of establishing suitable links both inside and outside Ethiopia as rapidly as was decided that a radio station should be built permitting direct communication with Europe".[3]

A tender was granted to the Ansaldo Corporation of Italy in 1928 for the construction of a one-kilowatt station; the formal contract was signed in 1931. The station would facilitate wireless "telegraphy and telephony at Akaki [where] the foundation was laid on July 21, 1931".[4] The Ethiopian Government took formal possession of the radio station on 31 January 1935; on 13 September 1935 the Emperor's first appeal to the world was broadcast.

The Italians took over the station in 1936 and planned to develop it into a communications center for their new empire, joining those already established in Somalia and in Asmara (Radio Marina). A more powerful radio station of seven kilowatts was started by the Italians in 1937 and taken over by the British in 1941. The British returned the one-kilowatt station to the Ethiopians but maintained the seven-kilowatt station. In 1942, the Press and Information Department in the Ministry of Pen assumed responsibility for broadcasting.

During the period of 1941-45, the seven-kilowatt station was not in operation; this created a point of contention between Haile Selassie and the British authorities. Radio broadcasts began "in 1941 on the one kilowatt station with a staff of seven, broadcasting four hours a day" in Amharic, Arabic and English.[5]

In the 1950s, the Imperial Bodyguard operated its own station, broadcasting from a one-kilowatt short-wave transmitter. Also during the period, an agreement was signed with the World Lutheran Foundation in 1959 that led to the establishment of Radio Voice of the Gospel in the 1960s. The main activity during this period, however, was planning.

The role of broadcasting in national development and the media's role in creating an educated labor force grew out of the activities of the "Point Four Program" and were also a feature of the $2.5 million technical assistance agreement signed in 1957. The Ethiopians installed a one-kilowatt transmitter in 1961 "followed by its first high-power short wave facility in 1964".[6] A further plan evolved to build high-power medium wave transmitters in Addis Ababa, Asmara and Harrar.

Television was first broadcast in 1962 during the initial meeting of the Organization of African Unity. Regular broadcast television started in November 1964 with eh original transmitter and studio located in the City Hall. Broadcasts of news, locally produced and imported programming started at about 5:30 pm and lasted until 11:00 pm.

Governed by the Ministry of Education, Ethiopian Educational Television (EET) went on the air in October 1965. Programming during the mourning hours, the service grew to 15 programs a week to 50 schools with a total studetn population of 48,000. Along with educational radio (EER) in 1968, radio and television production facilities were added and/or expanded and the name was changed to the Ethiopian Mass Media Center (EMMC). It primarily serviced in-school education; some adult education programs were added in 1970.

The topography of Ethiopia was an especially difficult impediment to developing a broadcasting system that could offer programming to the entire population of the country. Not only internal, but also external communications to the rest of the world was difficult because of distance. In addition to this, language differences as well as language policies has a significant impact on programming. One last significant element in describing Ethiopian broadcasting is its commitment to the use of media for both formal and non-formal education.

The Ethiopian Broadcasting Service (EBS) included Radio Ethiopia and Ethiopian Television. The Imperial Board of Telecommunications (IBTE) was established in 1952 to install and maintain telecommunications facilities. An Imperial Order declared the Ethiopian Broadcasting Service "an autonomous public Authority within the Imperial Ethiopian Government" and, while operating under the "direction, control and supervision of the Ministry of Information", it is subject to IBTE's licensing and authorization powers.[7] In 1974, the government was involved in both radio and television broadcasting.

Radio had already started in 1935, whereas television began broadcasting in 1962. Radio Ethiopia's main transmissions were broadcast simultaneously on both short and medium wave. There were three main stations: a 100 kW station in Harar, a 50 kW station just outside of Asmara and a 100 kW station in Addis Ababa. Programs were also broadcast from a 10 kW station in Addis Ababa. Short Wave services were broadcast from a station in Suggosa. The Home Service broadcast in Amharic, Tigrinya, English, Afar, Arabic, French and Oromiffa. The two regional stations rebroadcast the programs from Addis Ababa every night except for 15:00-17:00. During that two hour block, the following was transmitted: Harar broadcast in Oromiffa from 15:00 to 16:30 and Somali from 16:30-17:00; Asmara broadcast in Tigre from 15:00-15:45 and Tigrinya from 15:45-17:00.[8]

In 1974 the Ethiopian Television Service broadcast black and white programs from two studios in the City Hall in Addis Ababa to approximately 25,000 sets.[8] Evening programs started at 7:00 pm with educational programming which was followed by imported syndicated shows such as "Star Trek" and "The Donna Reed Show". A majority of the time was taken up by news in Amharic, English and French and to locally produced programming.[9] Regular in-school broadcasts were broadcast from 9:00-11:40 am.

In Ethiopia, educational programming is independent and programming is produced and broadcast by the Ministry of Education. Both radio and television programs are produced at the Mexico Square facility of the EMMC. In 1972 the decision was made in the Educational Sector Review to maintain television but to emphasize radio as an educational tool.[10][9]

The television section produced ten programs a week which were broadcast in the morning for elementary and junior secondary students in grades three to eight by the Ethiopian Television Service from their central transmitter as well as the translator stations at Nazret and Debre Zeyit. Programs were 20 minutes in length and covered subjects such as social science, geography, English, general science and mathematics. Programs were originally broadcast from the EBS low power transmitter on the Jimma road then, utilizing the EBS main transmitters, programs were transmitted to Addis Ababa, Harar and Asmara. In 1973 the government of the Netherlands gave funds for a transmitter dedicated to educational programming in Wolayta Soddo. The Ethiopians built another in Laga Dadi, near Addis Ababa.[10]

Two outside broadcasting entities were Radio Voice of the Gospel and the Kagnew station in Asmara (1969). Kagnew station was a military communications installation in Asmara operated by the American Armed Forces Radio and Television service. Radio Voice of the Gospel, operated by the Lutheran World Broadcasting Service, was an international broadcasting station located just outside Addis Ababa. It utilized two 100 kW short wave transmitters to broadcast to Africa, China, India, Sri Lanka and the Middle East. Some limited programming produced in Amharic, English and French was broadcast to local audiences utilizing a 1 kW medium wave transmitter.[10]

List of press agencies and printed newspapers[edit]

Key stations: television and radio[edit]

Television Networks in Ethiopia
Media Network
Public Networks EBC
Addis TV
Amhara TV
Debub TV
Harar TV
Tigray TV
Private Networks Aleph TV
Fana TV
Kana TV
Nahoo TV
Walta TV
Radio Stations in Ethiopia
Afro FM (105.3)
Ahadu FM 94.3
Besrat FM 101.1
EBC Radio
Ethio FM 107.8
Fana Radio
FM Addis
Sheger FM
Zami FM

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ethiopia country profile. Library of Congress Federal Research Division (April 2005). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ "New television channels in Ethiopia may threaten state control". The Economist. Retrieved 2017-04-03.
  3. ^ Telecommunications in Ethiopia: an Historical Review, 1894-1962. Addis Ababa: Ethiopian Ministry of Information. 1962. p. 17.
  4. ^ Pankhurst, Sylvia (1957). "The Initiation of Ethiopia's Wireless Communication". Ethiopian Observer. 2 (1): 2.
  5. ^ Mass Communication in Ethiopia. Addis Ababa: Ethiopian Ministry of Information. 1966. p. 2.
  6. ^ Head, Sydney (1974). Broadcasting in Africa: a Continental Survey of Radio and Television. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. p. 38. ISBN 9780877220275.
  7. ^ "Establishment of Ethiopian Broadcasting Service". Nägarit gazera. 135. 1966.
  8. ^ a b World Radio and Television Handbook. Amsterdam. 1975. pp. 133, 316, 432.
  9. ^ a b Gartley, John (1974). Case History: Ethiopia's Mass Media Center. pp. 309–315.
  10. ^ a b c Gartley, John (2003). "Broadcasting". In Uhlig, Siegbert. Encycylopaedia Aethiopica. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag. pp. 629–631.


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