Pathways to operationalize media self-regulation in Ethiopia

Ethiopian / MIRH/17 JAN 2022

Collected by Fekadu Alemu

The debate over what media regulation in Ethiopia should look like was settled by the country’s new media law, at least from a legislative standpoint. A non-statutory co-regulatory framework gave the country’s media an opportunity to self-regulate. While fervent ethnic nationalism, communal conflict, and displacement continue to challenge Ethiopia’s political transition, the country has been going through a democratic transformation over the past three years opening up for more inclusion of broader sectors in society. As a result of the ongoing comprehensive reform program and changes in the policy landscape, actors in the media sector coordinated efforts to introduce legal and administrative measures that would increase the role of self-regulatory bodies in the media governance process in the country.

The fundamental question of how to operationalize a robust and functional
a self-regulatory mechanism for the media sector, which had been systematically weakened by decades of authoritarian control, remains a challenge. Strong state regulation and repression are etched in the institutional memory of media organizations. The difficult task of safeguarding public trust is further complicated by continued political ownership of the sector. Even though the new media proclamation prohibits political ownership of the media, in practice, Ethiopia’s government is a majority shareholder in the news business followed by its political opponents who also finance, run, and operate media outlets directly or indirectly.


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