The Reporter (Addis Ababa)

12 April 2014

Ethiopia: Private Broadcasting Questions Remain Unanswered

Despite the outstanding issue of allowing the private sector to invest in broadcasting media, which still remains in limbo, the government insists the expansion of the mass media is performing well and being implemented.

According to a report by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED) presented before the House of Peoples' Representatives (HPR) on Thursday regarding license granting and service registration of the media business, based on achieving audience satisfaction, it was able to uplift the audience's horizons to 91.6 percent in the first three years of the Growth and Transformation plan (GTP) period, which was 85 percent prior to the current five-year development program.

The report says there were only eight community radio stations before GTP but it was able to maximize that total number to 16 out of the planned 20 by the end of the GTP. Implementation performance is 80 percent in the three years of the GTP period while it is only 53.3 percent compared to the five-year plan, which was targeted to meet 30 in 2016.

It further indicated that it was able to achieve issuing commercial radio licenses from five radio broadcasters, which was at the beginning of the GTP and of the three years it reached ten while the five year target was to grant a total of 11 licenses.

Similarly, the report says efforts were being undertaken to uplift the existing number of public television stations? to seven for the same reported period underlining as a successful performance during the concluded three years of the GTP. Government reports further indicated that some 10 press laws and directives had been enacted "to support the expansion of mass media." These legislations and directives include one advertisement and promotion proclamation, three operational directives and three standards that sum up seven legal and procedure bills.

The report also incorporated governments performance that it said had been implemented so far with monitoring and support activities. Accordingly, it was able to monitor and correct over 557 cases that were breached by broadcasters in three years, which is much higher than the planned target to achieve 400 breaches of laws and procedures.

The plan for last year alone was set to be 150 cases but it says it had monitored 267 breaches of law.

However, MoFED's report does not say anything regarding the longstanding question of the broadcast license for the private sector.

There are still only five private radio broadcasters in the nation but no single private television station so far.

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