Ethiopia’s media regulator recently ordered a local radio and television station to stop broadcasting international news. According to a letter from the Ethiopian Media Authority to Ahadu Radio and TV (Ahadu RTV), a subsidiary of Voice of America (VOA), which provides most of the channel’s international coverage. The station will no longer air satellite coverage supplied by international news agencies.
The letter, which was seen by VOA’s Africa Division and written in Amharic, did not give a reason for the suspension or a date for how long it would be in effect; instead, it stated that the “station was acting outside its goals of establishment.”
Several other stations received the same directive, according to Eskinder Frew, a journalist in Addis Ababa who contributes to VOA. In the last year, Ethiopia has issued orders, revoked licenses, and expelled at least one foreign journalist, frequently on the grounds that the news outlets were legitimizing terrorist groups, such as the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.
The media authority suspended the Addis Standard’s license in July, resulting in the news outlet’s suspension of operations. At the time, the Committee to Protect Journalists said the regulator was investigating allegations that the Addis Standard was publishing content that constituted a threat to national security.
VOA reached out to Ethiopia’s embassy in Washington and the Ethiopian Media Authority for comment. Neither has reacted as of the time of publication. According to the media regulator’s letter, broadcasters must operate “according to the terms and obligations they agreed upon, which are to inform, educate, and entertain the public.”
Ahadu RTV, on the other hand, “has been rebroadcasting the contents of Voice of America via satellite link, abandoning its objective.” The order has been met with disappointment by VOA, which has asked the Ethiopian Media Authority to reconsider its decision.
Yolanda Lόpez, the acting director, said in a statement that “The Voice of America is committed to providing accurate, balanced, and comprehensive reporting. Our content addresses issues of importance to Ethiopians,” Lόpez added.
“The decision restricts Ethiopian citizens’ access to information and threatens journalistic freedom. Moreover, it sends a terrifying message to all of the country’s journalists.”