'We shall negotiate while fighting. We shall fight while negotiating...whichever road leads to peace quickly will be the road we follow.' (Meles Zenawi)

Introduction of Ethiopia:

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Ethiopia also known as the 'Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia' is a landlocked country which is situated in the Horn of Africa. Ethiopia owns the tenth largest by area and second most popular nation on the continent with an estimation of 84.7 million civilians. Its capital is Addis Ababa and includes religions such as Christianity and Islam. Ethiopia is main agricultural export sources include coffee, hides, oilseeds, beeswax and sugarcane. The constitution recognises all Ethiopian languages, but the official language of the government is Amharic. 'The Ethiopian government makes its political opponents and privately owned media pay for their opinions. Despite the country's apparently democratic mechanisms, the authorities are inflexible and use political, legislative and administrative measures to harass journalists, who are often provocative and often allied with the opposition. As a result, the climate for the media is poor and self-censorship is common.'

The Mass Media, which includes radio and television, within Ethiopia are controlled soley by the Ethiopian Government. Along with the radio and television, also includes 'privately owned' newspapers and magazines. After the Civil War, private newspapers and magazines started to appear within Ethiopian media. This has continued to grow effectively within their society as numerous privately owned newspapers have even able to provide a variety of information and news worthy sources online via the Internet. It is important to consider the media within Ethiopia as a phenomenon attribute, reminding many audiences that the importance of the media is only recently a significant attribute in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia has suffered greatly, including droughts, famines, and extreme poverty conditions within society. Due to poverty, low literacy rates and poor distribution outside the capital, the print media offer only small duties throughout the Ethiopian society. The importance of a 'free press' has catered to several communities both online and offline. the people of Ethiopia can also view this free press in several languages including, English and Amharic.

BBC News- Africa-Ethiopia Profile

Ethiopia's Leaders:

  • President: Girma Woldegiorgis

  • Prime Minister: Meles Zenawi

Meles Zenawi:


  • 8th of May, 1955
  • Zenawi is apart of the Tigrayan People's Liberation Front
Years of Leadership:
  • Prime Minister of Ethiopia since 1955
  • President of Ethiopia from 1991-1995

Prime Minster of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, is the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF). He has won a fourth term in May 2010, in the elections. Though this resulted in the opposition refusing to accept this result, commenting that he did not win free and fair.

Oppositional supporters created a harsh and violent new wave, on their ideas and beliefs towards Meles Zenawi and the notion of the election being rigged. This action too place in a previous election such as the year of 2005. This event resulted in 199 Ethiopians dead and 193 people massacred by police. Amongst these civilians were journalists and senior oppositional figures charged with treason.

Some of Meles Zenawi achievements up to date compile of:
  • Praise from Western donors, curbing Ethiopia's reliance on foreign aid and commitment for the country's economy.
  • Head of the state after the dictator of Ethiopia, Mengistu Haile Mariam, was overthrown in 1991.
  • A champion of the free market and parliamentary democracy in the 1990's.

Broadcast Media in Ethiopia:


Radio broadcasts occur in several languages as this is considered as a government policy within the Ethiopian society.
Mass media in Ethiopia consists of radio, television, papers and interest. Media is considered to be a recent phenomenon is Ethiopia.
Radio consists of ten broadcast stations run in Ethiopia, eight AM and two shortwave.

The leading radio broadcasters are:

  1. Radio Ethiopia
  2. Radio Fana or Touch
  3. Radio Voice of One Free Ethiopia
  4. The Voice of the Revolution of Tigray.

Patti SMITH Group Radio Ethiopia.jpg


The leading television station is Ethiopian Television (ETV), which is governmentally owned due to a ban of private media. It airs in Amhaic, Afan Oromo, Af Somali, Tigrinya, QafarAf, French, Al Arabiyah, Russian, Serbian and English.

The station comprises of two broadcasting stations:

  1. ETV1 – the main channel with 24 hour coverage, with content on culture, politics, documentaries, economy and movies.
  2. ETC2 - a channel decided for Addis Ababa TV’s service (Ethiopia’s capital) with English, French, Serbian, Russia and Arabic programming.

In 1995 Ethiopian Radio and ETV merged to form the Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency, which is directly accountable to the House of People’s Representatives.

ETV’s mission is-
“To be a vibrant, competitive and reliable medium of information in Africa that promotes the development and democratic unity of Ethiopia. Build image and national consensus through an interactive broadcast media that provides timely, informative, educative and entertaining programs utilizing state of the art media technology.”[2]
ERTA is undertaking a vast expansion project to boost its transmission coverage in the country. There is a distinct gap between the radio coverage 86% and the television coverage 55%. The aimed of the expansion projects is to boost the coverage to 96% and 86.4% respectively.[3]

Ethiopia has three regional television stations:

  1. Addis TV
  2. TV Oromiya
  3. Dire TV

Print Media:

Print media only serves a small per cent of the population largely due to the high poverty levels, low literacy rates and poor distribution outside of Addis Ababa.

The major daily newspapers are

  1. Addis Zemen
  2. Daily Monitor
  3. Ethiopian Herald
  4. Capital Ethiopia
  5. Addis Tribune
  6. Jimma Times
  7. Addis Admass
  8. Addis Fortune

Press agencies:

  1. Amharic News
  2. Ethiopian Press Agency
  3. Ethiopian New Agency
  4. Fana Broadcasting Cooperate


Ethiopian Telecommunications Corporation (ETC):

  • the sole internet provider for Ethiopian Internet

Online news services include:

  1. Ethio Forum
  2. Ethiomedia.com
  3. Ethiopian review
  4. Media ETHIOPIA
  5. Nazret – Daily News from Ethiopia
  6. CyberEthiopia
  7. Walta Information Center
  8. Addis Admass News
  9. Cyberzena[1]

[1] Library of Congress – Federal Research Division Country Profile: Ethiopia, viewed 7 August,http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/profiles/Ethiopia.pdf

[2] ERTA 2011, Ethiopia Radio and Television Agency, viewed 7 August,http://www.ertagov.com/en/about-us.html

[3] African Media Development Initiative: Ethiopia Context, Ethiopia Country Report Context, viewed 7 August,Http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/trust/pdf/AMDI/ethiopia/amdi_ethiopia6_television.pdf

Who owns the media in Ethiopia?

The EPRDF (Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front) government rules Ethiopia with a heavy hand of control.
external image EPRDFsymbol.PNGThe EPRDF's symbol.

They are restricting completely free assemble – a universal right written into the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), slowing down the freedom of the media but also denying the people of Ethiopia freedom of expression in manifold ways[1].

Mass Media such as radio and television of course, remain under the control of the Ethiopian government[2].

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To follow Ethiopia’s strict government policy, radio broadcasts come about in a diversity of languages to cater to the wider public. The major radio broadcasting stations include ‘Radio Ethiopia’, ‘Radio Fana’ (or "Torch") a private station, Radio Voice of One Free Ethiopia. The single television broadcast network is Ethiopian Television, with 24 hours of broadcast and three regional stations, and Dire TV. Although the Ethiopian government has most control over the media since 1991 private newspapers and magazines have started to appear, and this sector of the media market, in the face of oppressive regulation, is flourishing. The Ethiopian government has a long history of restricting the freedom of the press, and has at times harshly imprisoned independent journalists. In 2003 the government suspended the only independent media organization in the nation, the Ethiopian Free Journalists Association. This was on the grounds of them failing to comply with the state’s arduous bureaucratic regulations.[3] Since the end of the civil war in 1991 privately owned newspapers and magazines have been appearing and despite heavy regulation by the Meles (Meles Zenawi – Ethiopian Prime Minister) government, this area of Ethiopian media is expanding.

Print media is of extremely low significance, due to of course the country’s position as a third world country and thus the low literacy of the adult population (48%), which is associated with levels of poverty and poor infrastructure. This makes distribution difficult, newspapers are not widely circulated or read, consequently the main source of information for the majority of people is by far the Ethiopian state owned television and radio, which serve as ‘little more than a mouthpiece of propaganda for the resident regime’, the EPRDF. [4]

However an example of a positive disrtibution of the media is when the country is in the spotlight for their sporting abilities. Young poverty stricken families can see their long distance running heroes and be inspired through means of daily radio and only some print media.

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The following table, is the 'Ethiopian Newspaper and News Media Guide'.

(http://www.abyznewslinks.com/ethio.htm) Copyright 2000-2011 ABYZ Web Links Inc.

[1]Grahame Peebles. Democracy Denied. Counter Currents. Friday, April 20, 2012 @ 08:04 AM <http://addisvoice.com/2012/04/media-control-in-ethiopia/>
[2] Library of Congress – Federal Research Division Country Profile: Ethiopia, April 2005 pg 17 <http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/profiles/Ethiopia.pdf>
[3] Library of Congress – Federal Research Division Country Profile: Ethiopia, April 2005 pg 17 <http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/profiles/Ethiopia.pdf>
[4] Grahame Peebles. Democracy Denied. Counter Currents. Friday, April 20, 2012 @ 08:04 AM <http://addisvoice.com/2012/04/media-control-in-ethiopia/>

Ethiopia's parliamentary system:

The Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia provides a parliamentary form of government and administration across its 9 states. It was adopted in December 1994, ratified by a constituent assembly and put into effect in August 1995. It guarantees basic human rights and all Ethiopian languages are equally recognised by the state. This system is made up of three groups:

The Legislative branch

The Legislative branch is made up of two chambers; the House of the Federation (108 seats) and the House of People's Representatives (548 seats). All recognised national groups are guaranteed representation in the House of the Federation. Members of both Houses serve 5-year terms.

The Executive branch

The executive branch includes the President, Prime-minister, Council of state and Council of Ministers. The president is elected by both Houses for a 6-year term. The Prime-minister assumes leadership of the largest party in the House of Representatives, and creates a cabinet that has to be approved by the chamber.

The Federal Supreme Court

The Federal Supreme Court is the highest court and has jurisdiction over all federal matters; other lesser federal courts hear state-based cases. The president and vice president of the Federal Supreme Court are recommended by the prime minister and approved by the House of Representatives.

Regulation of the media:

When the EPRDF came to power in 1991, one of their first acts was to free Ethiopian media from a censorship-stranglehold that has been in place for decades. However, there has not a trusting relationship between the private press and the EPRDF; there have been clampdowns on private press with the arrest of many journalists under the 1992 press law. Under this law, Ethiopia's authorities offer “official and unofficial warnings” to deter editors and publishers from releasing defaming or false information. This has resulted in many journalists fleeing the country, while others systematically censor themselves to stay in business and out of jail.

Four journalists in 2011 were arrested in two separate incidents; all charged with engaging in "terrorist activities" under the July 2009 anti-terrorist law.

Schibbye and Persson:

Martin Schibbye (left), Johan Persson (right)
Martin Schibbye (left), Johan Persson (right)
Swedish journalists, Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson were arrested on July 1st, 2011 for entering Ethiopia illegally and "participating in terrorism".

Judge Sgesnsu Sirgaga said,
“This sentence should satisfy the goal of peace and stability,”

Schibbye and Persson had been captured during a clash between the Ogaden National Liberation Front and Ethiopian soldiers in Ogaden. They claimed they were investigating human rights infringements and the ONLF rebel-group were guiding them through eastern Ethiopia.

The ONLF had recently been dubbed a terrorist organisation.

Amnesty international said, "There is nothing to suggest that the two men (Persson and Schibbye) entered Ethiopia with any intention other than conducting their legitimate work as journalists.

"The government chooses to interpret meeting with a terrorist organisation as support of that group and therefore a terrorist act."

Reylot Alemu and Woubeshet Taye:

Reyot Alemu
Reyot Alemu
Fitih columnist, Reyot Alemu was sentenced to serve 14 years in jail under charges of "receiving money from illegal sources, conspiring and possessing material for a terrorist act.".
Woubeshet Taye
Woubeshet Taye

Deputy editor, Woubeshet Taye was arrested in his home on June 19, secretly detained at the Maekelawi federal investigations centre and taken to court on June 21. He is accused of having links with Ginbot 7; an opposing group, recently labelled a terrorist organisation.

On Tuesday, 7, 2012 Alemu's sentence was reduced as the majority of her charges of conspiracy and planning to commit a terrorist act were unproven.The supreme court upheld her charges of "participation with covert forces of violence".
Her sentence was brought down to 5 years.

"The July 2009 anti-terrorism law under which Alemu was convicted is being ill-advisedly used in a draconian manner, culminating with a federal high court sentencing her to 14 years in prison and a fine of 1,850 US dollars. Like fellow journalist, Woubeshet Taye, she should never have been jailed. We call on the authorities to overturn their convictions and release them."
- Reporters without borders.

Reylot Alemu - accessed on August 12 <http://en.rsf.org/ethiopia-columnist-s-sentence-on-terrorism-08-08-2012,43175.html>

Schibbye and Persson - accessed on August 12 <http://en.rsf.org/ethiopie-in-disgraceful-verdict-court-21-12-2011,41586.html>

Press freedom index, Ethiopia- accessed on August 12 <http://en.rsf.org/report-ethiopia,16.html>

accessed on August 17 <http://www.ethiopianreview.com/content/38721>

Schibbye and Persson, Guardian - accessed on August 17 <http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/27/ethiopia-jails-swedish-journalists-terrorism>

Taye- accessed on August 17 <http://www.saharareporters.dekodesign.com/news-page/ethiopia-two-journalists-arrested-pressure-mounts-privately-owned-media>

Library of Congress – Federal Research Division Country Profile: Ethiopia, pg 15, accessed August 17- <http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/profiles/Ethiopia.pdf>


Relationship and Influences

Broadcast emerged effectively by showing the engagement between people and government and society, also influence the freedom of press.

  • First provisional radio station was built in 1933 and cooperated with Italian company.
  • Then Radio Ethiopia broadcasted wider from 3 locations (Addis Ababa, Harar and Asmara) to 6 languages.
  • And now Radio Ethiopia has 8 dialect within the country, and 3 languages (English, French and Arabic) for other countries to broadcast.

  • Ethiopia Media Mapping:

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Relationship between Government and Media

  • "Relations between Ethiopia's government and media have been contentious throughout the 18 years since Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front took power" (Media sustainability index 2008-Ethiopia, 2008,p.123) [2]
  • In late 2008, government passed a law aimed to encourage self-censorship and cut down the engagement between media and government on important issues.
  • However, there was no journalism jailed in 2008 is a huge improvement within the relationship.
  • And, some governments and agencies started to engage with broadcast media.
  • "Some participants said private broadcast media could promote cultural dialogue, information exchange and foster common values and tolerance."(Media sustainability index 2008-Ethiopia, 2008,p.125) [2]
  • Internet access is not very restricted BUT it is slow and only available in big cities such as Addis Ababa. Also, the cost of internet is quite high so that most of people choose to use internet from their work places. In addition, government limited the access to anti-government websites.
  • Government websites is bias to government obviously and private media companies towards opposition.
  • Government and "opposition political parties" operate broadcast media, ex)FANA radio station and Walta information centre affiliated with ruling party.
  • Ethiopia government does not allow foreigners invest media companies in Ethiopia.
  • "There are no media trade associations in Ethiopia."(Media sustainability index 2008-Ethiopia, 2008,p.131) [2]

Ethiopian broadcast media has a long history relatively when compare with other countries in Africa, the newspapers emerged at the end of 19th century, and the first provisional radio station was built in 1933 by cooperating with Italian company, and then, Radio Ethiopian broadcasted wider from 3 locations (Addis Ababa, Harar and Asmara) to 6 languages, but now it developed a lot which including 8 dialect within country and 3 languages, which are English, French and Arabic, for other countries.

Media plays a significant and useful role in democratic countries, because it can "cover political facts and events in the most objective, impartial and open way, promoting a variety of views and opinions as information they receive"(Media sustainability index 2008-Ethiopia, 2008,[2] . Broadcast media was regulated by government since it was established, first was the Italian so that they can spread their propaganda, then the next 2 major period of government, which were Haile Selassie and Derg controlled media extremely strict and tight in order to secure their power and absolute obedience of people, until Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front(EPRDF) took the power, media started to be changed. And now, the relationship between Ethiopian government and media is developing as well, the most important development was there was no journalism jailed in 2008. But Ethiopian broadcast media service is still standing a relatively low position in African standards. However, government has passed a law, which aimed to encourage self-censorship, and cut down the engagement between media and government on important issues such as national security, even they started to engage with broadcast media, which was a sign to intervene broadcast media in Ethiopia. The new authority of broadcast is called "Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority",which was built in 2007 and claimed that it is a self-regulated federal agency to organize radio and television transmissions. At the same time, Ethiopian government does not allow foreign invest or manage media companies in Ethiopia. In addition, Ethiopian broadcast media is operated both the government and "opposition political parties", for example, FANA radio station and Walta information centre affiliated with ruling party. Although the new press law stops censorship, government tried to find ways to intervene media publication and distribution, for instance, government will find an 'excuse' such as national security problem to check the content prior they public it, so the freedom of press actually is nearly impossible to achieve, even the law gives them the right.

Nevertheless, Ethiopian broadcast media seems like does not effect children a lot, because, according to Eva Poluha(2007)[3], children's content is rare in private newspapers, the reason is that private owners "rely upon politics and other contents that target adult tastes and interests"(2007[3], unless there are some news about children to report. Although there are articles appear on newspaper which are aimed to children, most of the children did not even read them, according to Eva's research, most children said that they even did not have access to newspapers, or, they were not interested in it and prefer to read sports or beauty magazines.