Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC)

Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) is Ethiopia’s state-owned broadcaster headquartered in Addis Ababa, the country’s capital city. The broadcaster operated as ERTA until 2015 when it changed its name to EBC following the merger of Ethiopian Radio and Ethiopian Television (ETV). The two broadcasters were launched in 1935 and 1964, respectively.

Media assets

Television: Nationwide-ETV News, ETV Languages, ETV Entertainment, ETV Sport, ETV East, ETV West, ETV North, ETV South, ETV Representative

Radio: Ethiopian National Radio, FM Addis 97.1, FM 104.7

State Media Matrix Typology: State-Controlled (SC)

Ownership and governance

EBC is wholly owned by the Ethiopian government. The corporation was set up through a government decree (the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation Establishment Proclamation No. 858/2014) as an autonomous government institution accountable to Parliament. Six board members come from the ruling party. In 2019, Fekadu Tessema, formerly head of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), the ruling party, was appointed board chair.

The chief executive officer of EBC is also nominated by the government and formally approved by Parliament. In December 2023, Getnet Tadesse was appointed head of the EBC by the Ethiopian parliament.

Source of funding and budget

The budget of EBC is not transparent as the corporation doesn’t release details about its funding source. The decree establishing the corporation is also vague regarding the budget of EBC, stating that the company is to be funded through “revenues collected in accordance with this proclamation” (without elaborating on it) and government funding.

The corporation planned an annual budget of ETB 500m (US$ 13.6m) for 2020, but it requested a cash injection of ETB 191m (US$ 5.2m) from the government to pay salaries and satellite fees. The broadcaster claimed that the request was prompted by the decline in ad sales revenues caused by the ongoing pandemic.

The corporation claims that in 2016, it financed itself in full from revenues generated through ad sales (a claim not supported by evidence). The corporation has also received funding from a license fee that is supposed to be paid by Ethiopia’s citizens. However, the fee collection rate has historically been very low, according to three journalists from EBC interviewed in 2022. Today, the corporation’s budget consists, in a proportion of more than 50%, of funding from the government.

In November 2022, members of the House of People’s Representatives in Ethiopia harshly criticized the proposal to double the license fee to fund the EBC’s operation. The measure, introduced as a part of a new bill to re-establish EBC, was envisaged to increase the fee to ETB 120 (US$ 2.2) per television set per year from ETB 60 earlier. MPs argued that EBC should first improve its programming before asking citizens to pay for its services. The bill foresees jail terms and fines for those failing to pay the license fee. Despite the criticism, the bill was approved in late November 2022.

EBC’s budget for the fiscal year 2023-2024 reached ETB 600m (US$ 10.4m), according to data from the government of Ethiopia.

Editorial independence

Proclamation No. 858/2014 does not give the EBC board any formal authority to intervene in the editorial choices of the corporation’s CEO, but the boundaries of their mandates are blurred. All successive administrations in Ethiopia have kept EBC under strict editorial control. In recent years, the office of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed reportedly interfered with the work of EBC. Evidence from senior EBC reporters indicates that the station is clearly biased in favor of the government, a trend also confirmed in academic literature.

The proclamation that brought the corporation into being defines its mandate, but it doesn’t spell out any rules or guarantees that establish the broadcaster’s editorial independence.

No independent assessment mechanism to validate the editorial independence of EBC has been identified.

June 2024