The Political Economy of Mainstream Television Channels in Ethiopia
Perspectives from Ownership and Regulations
The main objective of this article was to explore the political economy of mainstream TV channels in Ethiopia from the perspective of ownership and regulations. The study used a qualitative approach to document analysis. It also conducted an in-depth interviews with randomly selected media monitoring experts and journalists working in the newsrooms of TV channels to augment the data. The results showed that media ownership and political power are closely intertwined in Ethiopia. It also indicated the private TV channels need reasonable subsidies to survive in an increasing market competition. The boundary between private and government ownership is hazy despite difference in the business models with parallel censorship conditions in both private and government-owned channels. There is diversity in TV ownership, with lower competition and sluggish development of TV infrastructure. Constricted control of TV channels by manifold and overlapping regulatory provisions obstructing TV content and restraining freedom of the press characterizes the political economy of TV channels. This study suggests a need for the establishment of a system in which constitutional rights and regulatory frameworks would become compatible to protect press freedom and diversity of voices in mainstream TV channels.
Key Words: Political Economy, Television Channels, Ownership, Regulations, Press Freedom