Ethiopia to Allow First Non-State TV Shows on New Channels, Minister Says

Ethiopia Radio and Television Agency (ERTA)
Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency (ERTA)

Bloomberg

Ethiopia will introduce as many as eight new television channels in 2011 featuring programs made by non-government broadcasters for the first time, Communications Minister Bereket Simon said.

State-owned Ethiopian Television’s two channels currently offer no private content, so the move is a “significant change,” Bereket said in a phone interview today from the capital, Addis Ababa.

“So far we have only limited private FM radio stations,” he said. “Now we are going to have private content providers for television.” The “infrastructure” will still be operated by the Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency, Bereket said.

State media coverage of Ethiopia’s parliamentary elections in May, which the ruling party won by a landslide, was not “balanced,” the European Union’s observation mission said in its report on the vote. The government has admitted to jamming the Voice of America’s Amharic-language service and has been accused of blocking opposition-friendly websites and a new Amsterdam-based satellite channel, Ethiopian Satellite Television.

The country’s sole Internet provider is the state-run Ethio Telecom, which will be managed by France Telecom SA for the next two years under a 30 million-euro ($39 million) contract announced on Nov. 29.