Friday, April 19, 2024
NewsMedia Council decries critical financial woes, misinformation, fading press freedom

Media Council decries critical financial woes, misinformation, fading press freedom

The Ethiopian Media Council (EMC) cautions that rising printing and broadcast-related costs, rampant misinformation on digital platforms, falling advertisement revenues, and shifting consumer habits are diminishing the media’s role and effectiveness.

The Council, which is composed of 80 media institutions, conducted its annual general assembly this week.

During her opening remarks, Tigist Yilma, Council chairperson, said its members are struggling to keep up with surging costs, and some are being forced to shut down.

“We call on the government to act on this critical problem hampering media institutions from playing their role as watchdogs and entertainers of the public, which is expected of them,” said Tigist.

She acknowledged the need for dialogue to address the growing burden of hate speech, misinformation, and disinformation on digital media platforms – emphasizing its distortionary role in the public sphere.

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The Ethiopian printing press industry faces a range of challenges in circulation, readership, and printing costs. Television stations are also grappling with high satellite payments and a shortfall in vital advertisement revenues.

The Chairperson called for solutions in fostering a better environment for media institutions, ensuring the safety and security of journalists, creating a media environment that can provide accurate and reliable information to the public, and establishing a reputable media profession capable of addressing and resolving the challenges facing the industry.

Tigist noted financial constraints and security issues have hindered the Council from executing its objectives in recent years.

During his presentation of the Council performance report, Executive Chairperson Amare Aregawi,  expressed his dissatisfaction with the government’s response to the Council’s appeals for a solution to the increasing costs of printing newspapers and magazines, as well as the costs associated with satellite television.

Amare did, however, acknowledge duty privileges granted to certain media institutions for the import of equipment.

The Chairperson cautioned the flicker of hope the media industry witnessed a few years ago is fading away, and called the situation concerning. The media landscape is shrinking, freedom of speech is under threat, and the safety of journalists is compromised, while media organizations’ assets are being plundered, said Amare.

He disclosed there are discussions ongoing with government officials to find solutions, and urged journalists to uphold professional standards and avoid engaging in activism.

Amare also pointed out that Council members have not been paying their membership fees, leading to problems in executing its tasks and a fall in morale. He observes failures on the part of certain institutions, including state media outlets that receive government support, to make payments.

Tamirat Hailu, deputy chairperson, echoed his concerns. He called the media industry’s financial circumstances unsustainable.

“If we truly believe in the importance of establishing a free and independent media, it is vital for all council members to fulfill their responsibility of paying their membership fees. We should not rely on external parties to fund our activities,” said Tamirat.

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