Ethiopia orders local media to stop broadcasting foreign news

Ethiopia’s media authority on Friday ordered a local radio and television broadcaster to stop broadcasting foreign news.

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

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

The logo of Ahadu radio.

The letter, written in Amharic and viewed by the Africa division of VOA, provided no specific reason for the ban or a time frame for how long it would remain in place, saying only that the “station was acting outside of its objectives of establishment”.

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

Ethiopia has issued orders or suspended licenses for various media groups and expelled at least one foreign journalist over the past year, often on charges that news organizations legitimize terrorist groups, a reference to the Front. popular liberation of Tigray.

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 Addis Standard, which led to the suspension of media operations.

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

In the same month, authorities arrested around 20 journalists from two independent broadcasters.

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

VOA sent requests for comment to the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington and the Ethiopian Media Authority on Friday evening. At the time of publication, neither had responded.

The media regulator said in its letter on Friday that broadcasters should operate “under the terms and obligations they have agreed upon (…) to inform, educate and entertain the public.”

Ahadu RTV however, “rebroadcast the content of Voice of America via a satellite link, abandoning its target.”

VOA expressed disappointment with the order on 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 of importance to the Ethiopian people, ”Acting Director Yolanda Lόpez said in a statement.

“The ordinance restricts the free flow of information to Ethiopian citizens and infringes on press freedom. This sends a frightening message to all journalists across the country. “

This story originated in the Africa division of VOA.

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