The newly emerging “private”FM Radio stations in Addis Ababa and somewhere else in Ethiopia including the much-heralded Sheger FM is often accused of indulging in self-censorship. Given that we live in a country plagued by endemic violence and threats to journalists, this may well be true to some extent
There has been FM Radios expansion and explosion in our country since the turn of the Ethiopian millennium in Addis alone there are more than six radio stations besides there are more to come as Ethiopian Broadcast Authority indicated recently. These FM radios are disseminating an influx of information to millions of listeners in the capital.But the question is besides fulfilling their business interest whether this radio stations are fulfilling their functions in the society as a responsible actor? Do they regulate and improve themselves to be more responsible with the speed they are expanding? Are they playing their role as the fourth pillar of state and a watchdog of the society?
These questions are worth considering because radio as a mass media is the double-edged sword of any society. It has effects, both positive as well as negative, depending on its contents.
However, unfortunately, these newly growing FM radio stations are neither responsible nor people-centric. Prime significance is given to entertainment issues. According to my rough estimation throughout my two weeks stay in Addis Ababa over 100 radio talk shows aired every week on all FM Radio stations during the prime hours have set their agenda to discuss nothing but football, film, fashion, sex or music. Moreover, theses shows are overcrowded with the so called famous or “debutant “artists” & “journalists” who deceive the public with hollow analysis of art, music or football and traditional rhetoric. The so called “artists” have nothing to do with Ethiopia’s problems; they are concerned only about their gains and public attention.
Ethiopia is in a quagmire of crises ranging from education to electricity and from food security to economic woes. The list is long and unending. So, it definitely has something that deserves to be highlighted in these radios beyond “cheap popular entertainment issues”.
Shouldn’t these radios conduct shows on the real issues being faced today? For instance, a debate on the Egyptian crisis with the participation of experts in the field proposing ideas and giving perspective to the problems Egyptians facing.
However, one thing that caught my attention this past weekend was how various privities newspapers had covered the revolution of Egypt and Tunisia .Awereba Times gave through analysis while Addis Admas covered the story with a reasonably enough analysis by their own standard. But not “private” FM radio stations. Why?