15 April 2018

Ethiopia: Nahoo, EBS Secure Local Licenses Ending Debate

Nahoo and Ethiopian Broadcasting Service (EBS), two television stations previously owned by non-nationals, has acquired local broadcasting license, after transferring their shares to nationals.

The two stations are among the four broadcasters listed by Zeray Asgedom, director general of the Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority (EBA), that are operating in the country without a proper local license. Five months ago Zeray reported to the parliament, that Kana, EBS, LTV, and Nahoo, are owned by Ethiopia-born members of the diaspora and engage in a sector which is reserved for Ethiopian citizens only.

Zeray also called for an assistance of the parliament to tighten its regulatory efforts on broadcasters operating in Ethiopia.

The Authority has also served a notice to the owners of these stations to transfer their shares to Ethiopians. So the owners of the two station are now processing their cases at the Authority to obtain a local broadcasting license.

EBA granted them the licenses, which will be renewed every year, and a 10-year transmission permit, two weeks ago. The duo joined the eight television, 10 private radio and seven regions and two city administrations broadcasters licensed by the Authority since its inception in 1999. JTV, which was founded by the young artist Yoseph Gebre, has also obtained a local license some months ago.

EBS Television, was launched in 2008 is based in Silverspring, Maryland, United States it split as EBS Television Ethiopia Plc and EBS Television Global to get the local broadcasting permit.

"During the establishment, we knew that members of the Ethiopian diaspora were not allowed to invest in the media industry," said Nebiyu Tiumelissan, CEO of EBS Television Ethiopia. "But we were hoping that it would be reverted with amendments of legal frameworks, which it didn't" he added.

EBS Television Global had been operating in Ethiopia after hiring correspondents and through its sole agent Incom Trading. However, according to the new restructuring, EBS Television Ethiopia fully took over the roles of Incom Trading terminating the deal with the latter.

EBS Television Global will continue producing content in the United States, as well as the local. EBS Television Ethiopia is preparing a live transmission studios for the news and sports programmes at its current headquarters located on Bawa Building, around Unity University in Gerji.

The other broadcasting company, which used to be owned by Kenyans, was Nahoo. Nahoo was launched in 2016 by Nahoo LLC in a partnership with the local production company, Tuba Media Plc. However, three months back the major shares of the company were transferred to Tewodros Shiferaw, the founder and major shareholder of Rosetta General Business Plc.

Before joining Nahoo, Tewdros was one of the founders of African Renaissance Television Service (ARTS) along with 24 shareholders, including Haile Gebrselassie, Gebregzibher Gebremariam, Zemedeneh Negatu, Zewdineh Beyene (PhD) and Amare Aregawi. He dropped his shares at ARTS and joined Nahoo becoming a major shareholder.

Whilst in the process of acquiring the local broadcasting license, the management was restructuring the station for three months. With new studios, professionals and facilities at its new five-storey building around Bole Rwanda, according to CEO of the company Tewodros.

The company also plans to build a film studio, which will enable the station to record movies. And have a live studio on a 520sqm area with a capacity of accommodating an audience of 300.

Even though the broadcasting media industry is an infant, it has various drawbacks, according to Asemahegn Asress, a lecturer at Addis Abeba University (AAU) School of Journalism & Communication, for eight years.

Angle selection, quality of presentation and duplication of contents are the major problems of the industry mentioned by Asemahegn.

"Since airtime is very expensive, the broadcasters should focus on producing quality content," he said.


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