• November 1, 2021
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Ethiopia bans broadcasting of foreign news on local media

Ethiopia bans broadcasting of foreign news on local media

Ethiopia’s media authority on Friday ordered a local radio and TV broadcaster to cease sharing foreign news reports.

A letter from the Ethiopian Media Authority, issued to Ahadu Radio and TV (Ahadu RTV), said the station could no longer air coverage provided by international news agencies via satellite.

Ahadu RTV is an affiliate of Voice of America, which is the predominant source for its international coverage.

The letter, written in Amharic and viewed by VOA’s Africa Division, provided no specific reason for the ban or a timeframe for how long it would stay in place, saying only that the “station was acting outside its goals of the establishment.”

Several other stations received the same order, according to Eskinder Frew, a journalist in Addis Ababa who contributes to VOA.

Ethiopia has issued orders or suspended licenses for various media groups and expelled at least one foreign journalist in the past year, often on accusations that the news outlets were legitimizing terrorist groups, a reference to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

Ethiopian federal forces and the TPLF have been fighting in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region since November 2020.

In July, the media regulator suspended the license of the Addis Standard, which led to the news outlet’s suspension of operations.

The regulator said it was investigating complaints that the Addis Standard was publishing content that posed a threat to national security, the Committee to Protect Journalists said at the time.

That same month, authorities arrested about 20 journalists from two independent broadcasters.

Media analysts including Reporters Without Borders told VOA in July that the arrests were likely connected to the media coverage of the federal government and the conflict in Tigray.

VOA sent requests for comment late Friday to Ethiopia’s embassy in Washington and to the Ethiopian Media Authority. As of publication, neither had responded.

The media regulator said in its letter Friday that broadcasters must operate “according to the terms and obligations they agreed upon … to inform, educate and entertain the public.”

Ahadu RTV however, “has been rebroadcasting the Voice of America contents via satellite link, abandoning its objective.”

VOA expressed disappointment at the order Friday and called on the Ethiopian Media Authority to reconsider its decision.

“The Voice of America strictly adheres to the principles of accurate, balanced and comprehensive journalism. Our content addresses issues important to the people of Ethiopia,” acting director Yolanda Lόpez said in a statement.

“The order restricts the free flow of information to the citizens of Ethiopia and undermines press freedom. It sends a chilling message to all journalists in the country.”

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