Television Overview

Television
in Ethiopia caters mainly for urban audiences. It is the most important source
of news and information in the country after radio.

 

Poverty,
lack of electricity and poor reception mean that few people have TV sets
outside the main towns.

 

Television
broadcasting is completely controlled by the government.

 

There
are no private TV broadcasters in Ethiopia.

 

However,
an independent satellite broadcaster, Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT), began beaming programmes into
the country in Amharic from studios
in the Netherlands, in 2010.

 

ESAT
repeatedly complained of jamming by the Ethiopian authorities. It launched a
companion satellite radio service in October 2011.

 

The
state-run Ethiopia Radio and Television
Agency (ERTA)
operates the national channel Ethiopia Television.

 

This
broadcasts from 27 transmitters around the country and claims to reach a
potential audience of 25 million people – less than a third of Ethiopia’s total
population.

 

There
are also five regional TV stations run by some of the government’s regional
mass media agencies.

 

These
are based in the following cities:

 

  • Addis Ababa
  • Adama (also called Nazret)
  • Dire Dawa
  • Harar
  • Jijiga

 

The
largest of the regional TV stations is Oromia
Television
, which is based in Adama.
It claims to cover a population of 15 million people in Oromia region and
beyond through a network of 16 transmitters.

 

Dire Dawa Television, Harar
Television
, Somali Television and AddisTelevision
(also known as ETV2), on the other
hand, are much smaller stations.

 

Each
one uses a single transmitter to reach audiences in the city where the studios
are based and the surrounding area.

 

Ethiopia
Television mainly broadcasts in Amharic.

 

The
regional stations make greater use of local languages.

 

News
programming on all stations is tightly controlled by the government.
Controversial issues and criticism of the authorities are avoided.

 

BBC, CNN and Al-Jazeera (Arabic and English)
are available on satellite television, but these pay-TV services are beyond
the means of the vast majority of Ethiopians.

 

About
6 percent of Ethiopians have access to satellite TV, according to the 2011
audience survey by the Electoral Reform International Services (ERIS) Audience
Survey Ethiopia 2011
.

 

This survey of 3,999 people
across Ethiopia, found that only 39 percent of respondents had access to
television.

 

It also found that television
was also regarded as a less important and less reliable source of information
than radio.

 

Only a fifth of those surveyed
said TV was their most important and most reliable source of information.

 

On the other hand, more than
half put their trust in radio.

 

The ERIS survey found that most
Ethiopian television viewers do not have a TV set in their own homes.

 

Instead, they watch television
in a cafe, bar or restaurant or at a friend’s house.

 

ERIS found that television
was most influential in Addis Ababa,
where e 96% of respondents cited it as a source of news and information.

 

Television was also influential in Tigray, where it was cited as a source
of news and information by 70% of respondents.

 

In
both these areas television was slightly ahead of radio.

 

Television came
a close second to radio in the small city-based administrative regions of Harari and Dire Dawa.

 

The
peak viewing period on weekdays is between 18.00 and 22.00.

 

However,
the ERIS survey showed that most people watched television at weekends in the
afternoon between 14.00 and 18.00.

 

According
to the ERIS report, news and current affairs, drama and entertainment are the
most-popular types of television programming.