Newly launched Ethiopian satellite TV offers fresh voice

By Christopher Vouralias | Variety

Ethiopia’s first independent satellite TV launched in May, breaking the monopoly long held by Ethiopian Television.

Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) began a trial run May 14, with plans to unveil a full slate of original programming in June.

ESAT debuted with a series of reports on last week’s elections — final results are due June 21 — as well as a number of entertainment programs produced in the country’s Amharic language.

Execs said the web’s debut will promote the free flow of information in the country.

“People feel that for the first time in their history they are now able to watch independent news,” says Fasil Yenealem, ESAT’s managing editor.

He added that Ethiopians “have been bombarded by government propaganda for a long time.”

Ethiopia consistently ranks among the world’s most repressive nations regarding media freedom.

Critics accuse the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of suppressing independent and opposition voices, and ETV regularly broadcasts news stories favorable to the ruling coalition, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front.

During the run-up to the May election, the U.S. rebuked the Ethiopian government for jamming Voice of America radio broadcasts in Amharic.

Yenealem says ESAT will give opposition groups a voice in the country’s political dialogue. But he adds that the channel will present an independent, balanced view in its reporting.

“We try to approach everyone equally,” he says. “We want to (encourage) the government to use this media and to participate in the discussion.”

So far, he says, the government has given ESAT the cold shoulder. Requests for an interview with the communications minister for a recent news segment were rebuffed.

But ESAT execs remain optimistic that the web, according to Yenealem, will “challenge the media blackout that exists in Ethiopia.”

“We hope that the government will also see this media as a positive force to bring democratic change to the country,” he says.

4 thoughts on “Newly launched Ethiopian satellite TV offers fresh voice

  1. Debteraw on

    Claims to be giving independent and fresh voice to the voiceless but still seeming to be begging and licking Wayane’s ass as has always been for the last twenty years.

    This sounds like seeking recognition and acceptance from the dictatorship like a small teen age child rebelling against the loved parents. Does not sound promising and promoting.

    Wayane has a hell lot of resources, loud voices as well as huge amounts of monopoly media outlets of its own and does not care a dash for your yet theoretical independent TV. So why not concentrate on giving voices to those who were denied a say and any voice in their own country?

    And the again it must be broadcast in several Ethiopian languages if it claims to be for Ethiopians.

  2. Sammy on reports as of May 29, 2010 from SEATTLE that – Ethiopian Satellite Broadcasting Service (ESAT) programs have been disrupted since Thursday and the board said negotiations were underway to resolve the crisis.

    Activist Tamagne’s moving appeal for change from Ethiomedia on Vimeo.

    Neither ESAT’s administrative nor technical problems are to blame for the service disruption, a statement released by the board said on Saturday.
    Millions of Ethiopians welcomed the launch of the satellite television service as a political breakthrough that would end state-sponsored news and information blackout that has hit Ethiopia for several years.

    Government policy doesn’t allow Ethiopians to own and run TV and radio services, and many observers say it is a deliberate government policy to keep the people in a media blackout.

    ESAT was born at a time when government repression became complete even the daily one-hour broadcasting services of the Voice of America (VOA) and Deutsche Welle (DW) are jammed to listeners in the country.

    ESAT said the disruption sparked thousands of telephone calls and email inquiries, and stated:
    The service interruption is caused neither by any action or omission of ESAT or any of its personnel. It also ruled out equipment failure or technical problems.
    We are in communication with our service providers to find out exactly the cause of the interruption, and work cooperatively with them to resolve any issues or problems, if any.

    The board said ESAT will continue to ‘provide the services it has started,’ and expressed grtitude to “our viewers and supporters for their moral, financial and material support. We ask our viewers and supporters to bear with us patiently as we resolve the current service interruption issue.”

  3. yibabie Getenet on

    የኢሳት ፕሮግራም አዘጋጀችና አመራሮች እንዴት አላችሁ?
    ፕሮግራሙን ለመክፈት ሀሳቡን ያመጣውንና እንዲከፈትና ስራ እንዲጀምር ላደረጉት ሁሉ በ80 ሚሊዮን ህዝብ ስም ላመሰግናችሁና ላደንቃችሁ እንዲሁም ላከብራችሁ እወዳለሁ፡፡

    ኢትዮጵውያን የመረጃ ችግር አንቆ የያዘን ህዝቦች ነን ፡፡በዚህም ኢሳት ሲከፈት በጋለ ስሜት እንባ እተናነቀን እንከታተል ነበር የሙከራ ስርጭቱን፡፡አሁን ግን ስርጭቱ መድረስ ስላልቻለ የባሰ ሀዘናችን ጨመረ ምን ያክል ጨለማ ውስጥ እንዳለን እየተረዳን መጣን፡፡

    ህዝቡ ስርጭቱ ለምን እንደቆመ ምክኒያቱን ማወቅ ይፈልጋል፡፡ብታሳውቁን መልካም ነው በትዕግስት ለመጠባበቅም ይረዳል፡፡………
    ኢትዮጵያን ሊታደጋት የሚችል ብቸኛው አማራጭ ኢሳት ነው
    እወዳቺሀለሁ፡፡ በርቱ ተበራቱ አንድ ቀን ዕውነት በኢቴዮጵ ትነግሳለች፡፡
    some one ከደቡብ ጎንደር

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