Transforming State Broadcasting into Public Service Broadcasting in Ethiopia: Challenges and Prospects

No Thumbnail Available



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Addis Ababa University


The existence of freedom of_ expression in general and media freedom in particular is one of the most important indicators of the presence of democracy in a given country. Article 29 of the 1995 Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia has laid the legal structure for the existence of freedom of _expression in Ethiopia. Accordingly, all the subsidiary laws advocate the flourishing of media freedom in Ethiopia. The legal framework for transforming state broadcasting into public service broadcasting (PSB) is encouraging. However, what is happening in practice is questionable. This thesis looks at the state of affairs of State Broadcasting in Ethiopia, using content analysis as a quantitative data-gathering instrument. Key informant interviews and legal documents have been used to collect data as a qualitative means. The study has selected 131 news items from 15 days of Ethiopian Radio Amharic prime time news bulletin. The data collected via content analysis has been supplemented by the data gathered through qualitative means. In this study, the practice of state broadcasting has been tested against the principles and practices of public service broadcasting. One of the findings of the study is that there is a very tight form of political control in the activities of journalists working in state broadcasting in general, and in Ethiopian Radio in particular. Government officials, predominantly from the Ministry of Information, directly and indirectly interfere in the editorial independence of journalists working on Ethiopian Radio. In order to protect state broadcasting from political interference, and to maintain editorial independence, the study suggests a new law should be drafted by the Ethiopian Parliament. This would facilitate a smooth transformation from state broadcasting to public service broadcasting. Article 29, sub Article 2 of the 1995 Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia explicitly supports the enactment of a law that promotes media independence in the country. [ iii 10 Public service broadcasting must be guaranteed protection from political and/or commercial interference. This will be closer to reality when the appointment and accountability of PSB officials, their duties and responsibilities are clearly supported by a law according to the accepted principles of PSB. Public service broadcasting demands that editorial independence be respected. Moreover, the programming should serve the public interest and, in particular, should be balanced and impartial. At the very least, PSB should be editorially independent as an institution, and should serve the public fairly, helping to empower people so as to enable them make to decisions and to play a role towards the establishment and continuity of a democracy.



State Broadcasting into Public Service