The Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State(SNNPRS) inaugurates its own satellite Television Transmission, South TV (STV) that broadcasts 10 hours a day in Amharic and 47 languages of the region. The television station based in the Capital of SNNPRS, Hawassa, is equipped with latest media facilities for which the regional government has spent more than 150 million Ethiopian birr.
Officials from the federal government including the minister of Government communication office, Ato Redwan Hussien, the head of SNNPRS, Ato Desse Dalke, regional state officials, journalism professors, and other stakeholders were present at the inaugural ceremony.
The SNNPRS is now the the fifth regional state to launch its own TV broadcast. Previously, Oromia Regional state, Amhara Regional state, Dire Dawa City Administration, Addis Ababa City Administration have established TV stations owned and operated by the regional states.
Ethiopia, which owned a single TV station (ETV) for more than six decades is now becoming the owner of modern TV facilities eventhough all the stations are directly controlled by the government. The Ethiopian government has the plan to make sure that all regional states have their own TV organization.
On the eve of the inaugural ceremony, there was a panel discussion held at the Regional council in Hawassa city where three professors of Journalism and Mass Communication presented papers on topics Development Journalism by Dr.Negri Lencho from Addis Ababa University, Media in a Democratic Developmental states by Dr.Abdissa Zerai from Addis Ababa University and Media Industry in Ethiopia and Its Challenges by Dr Nigussie Meshesha from Hawassa University.
In their presentations, the panelists appreciated the efforts that Ethiopia is making in the recent decades to expand media and communication facilities throughout the country. Their research papers focused mainly on the issues of development journalism and its significance to Ethiopia.
They pointed out that development journalism is the best model for Ethiopia as the country is undertaking development initiatives and schemes. They said liberal journalism of the western countries focuses on negative issues such as war, crisis, crime and other sensational stories and development is not a concern for them. They said such kind of reporting is not good as it may lead the country into instability.
However, they said that development journalism is not praising those on powers and serving them as a mouthpiece, instead development journalism reports on the success stories of the development process and at the same time it critically investigates, evaluates and verifies information given by officials against the existing reality. Development journalism, as they put it, expose incompetence and indifferences of the government officials, it tackles corruption and rent seeking.
The panelists remarked that the practice of development journalism in Ethiopia is highly challenged by a lot of factors. They identified lack of professionalism, journalists’ lack of appropriate training and their lack of creativity, political interference where journalists are not free to write and report independently that forces journalists to fear for their lives, journalists’ lack of confidence and lack of shared journalistic values as the major challenges to the practice of development journalism.
Recently, Ethiopia is trying to expand media facilities to its entire region, but the media organizations are structured to serve the government on power thereby strengthening its position by presenting mere propaganda instead of information based on objectivity and verification. Because the media institutions in the country are not independent, they are not ready to serve the interest of the general public.
Moreover, the regional TV stations are not different from each other neither in format or content. Oromia TV is different from others only because it mainly broadcasts in Afan Oromo. The TV stations in Ethiopia are mostly the replica of ETV, the national TV and their programs are largely copied from the this oldest broadcaster in the country with no or little modification. Undoubtedly, they can be referred to as the branches of ETV as no one sees any difference between ETV and the regional TV stations.