13 February 2018

Ethiopia: Arts Co-Founder Acquires Significant Shares At Nahoo TV

Tewdoros acquired half of the shares for an estimated 100 million Br

Tewdoros Shiferaw, a co-founder and board member of the African Renaissance Television Service (ARTS), has relinquished his shares and moved to own another station, Nahoo Satellite TV.

His company, Rosetta Media & Communications Plc, acquired the shares five weeks ago from Nahoo LLC, owned by Kenyans who transferred their shares following a decision by the Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority (EBA) to limit ownership of TV stations to Ethiopian nationals and requiring local licences.

The nature of the deal and the amount involved in the share transfer remains undisclosed. However, Rosetta aims at re-branding the TV station, according to Tewdoros, who dropped his entire share of ARTS as it did not allow shareholders to own stakes in other TV stations.

"I want a media company that I can manage exclusively," Tewodros told Fortune, explaining why he moved to another media house.

Currently, he runs the station adding current affairs, business news and entertainment to its programmes. The management of the company has set up a new studio in an area known as Rwanda, inside a building Tewodros owns after he returned from years in Japan and China.

Tewodros also hired Mackonen Michael, former founding CEO of ARTS, offering him the same position at Nahoo. Mackonen, a returnee from the UK, has worked with the BBC.

"I accepted Tewdros' offer as we are acquaintances," Mackonen said. "He approached me to help him re-brand Nahoo."

Tewodros is the founder and major shareholder of Rosetta General Business Plc, a company engaged in real estate development, import and export, and recently in the media and communications business. Rosetta was founded in 2008 by Tewdros and his wife with a registered capital of 100 million Br.

Tewodros was one of the 25 founding shareholders of ARTS, alongside prominent personalities such as Haile Gebrselassie, Gebregzibher Gebremariam, Zemedeneh Negatu, Zewdineh Beyene (PhD) and Amare Aregawi, the latter founder of Media & Communications Centre (MCC), p[ublishers of Reporter and The Reporter. ARTS is incorporated in the United States and has its headquarters and studio on Cameroon St., in front of Bole Medihanialem Cathedral. ARTS has applied for a licence from the Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority for domestic transmission, which is pending and the company has yet to start broadcasting.

Nahoo, which was launched in 2016 by its former owner, Nahoo LLC, in partnership with a local production company, Tuba Media Plc, hires 100 employees. It was one of the TV stations which was notified by the Authority to obtain a local licence requiring non-national to transfer their shares in the company, along with EBS, LTV and Kana.

Nahoo has submitted its application for registration and is awaiting the issuance of a licence, Gebregiorgis Abreha, communications director at EBA has confirmed.

"We're reviewing their documents," Gebregiorgis told Fortune.

Nahoo is one of the nine TV stations operating in Ethiopia of which eight are privately owned and satellite-based. They pay a monthly-average of 18,000 dollars to air their programmes via satellite.

More are on the way as part of new interest to get a slice of the growing private broadcasting industry.

Teshager Shiferaw, a professor at the Addis Abeba University's School of Journalism, sees Rosetta's current effort in acquiring a television business is part of the ongoing move by many companies rushing to take part in the media industry. But he believes their number is getting too large.

"I don't think the country's economy could handle such growing number of commercial TV channels dependant on advertisement revenues," Teshager said.

Managers at ARTS have declined to comment on the issue.


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