The Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority (EBA) has awarded three private media companies frequency modulation (FM) for broadcasting purposes. This brings the number of private radio broadcasting stations based in Addis Abeba to 10.
The new companies are Selam Multimedia, Muarse Multimedia and Afri Health Trading, which can now broadcast on bands ranging from FM 90.0 to FM 107.9.
This comes after the Authority announced a bid on February 9, 2018, on the state-owned Amharic daily, Addis Zemen. The Authority had 18 to 20 shortwave radio frequencies up for grabs, according to Gebregiorgis Abrha, director of communications at the Authority.
Only four companies showed interest, and three passed to the final stage over a week ago. In the technical and financial evaluation of the bid infrastructural capacity in regards to the companies’ proposed programming, human capital and brand vision were assessed.
Selam was the most qualified from the trio, according to the Authority’s measurements. Owned jointly by Axum Pictures, which is behind the popular infotainment formatted Ethiopiakalink program on Zami station, and Adika Tour & Travel Agency, it came with a capital of five million Birr.
The company received the broadcasting frequency, FM 95.1, in its second attempt in three years to participate in such a bid. The name of the radio station will be Arada FM, for which Selam has to pay 75,000 Br annually like the other stations. The payment will be made to the Authority that has the mandate to issue, suspend or cancel broadcasting licenses.
“The station will give special emphasis to entertainment,” Birhane Niguessie, CEO of Selam, told Fortune. “It will also include news, and selling of airtime for programs on politics, the economy and socio-cultural issues.”
He points out that as they are in the process of setting up a studio. Which requires importing of equipment from overseas, the current forex crunch Ethiopia is in has been challenging.
“We expect to move EthiopikaLink to Arada FM,” Birhane said.
Afri Radio is the other broadcaster that was awarded. Afri Health, the company behind the station, has also secured Afri TV from the Authority last year, though it has not begun broadcasting yet. The company already has a studio ready for broadcasting.
“The process was long, but we expect the Authority to give us the green light within 10 to 15 days for our TV broadcasting,” Bahiru Mengistu, co-founder and board of director of Afri Health, said.
Afri Health has thus far budgeted 7.5 million Br for the radio station, which obtained the shortwave frequency of FM 93.8 on a six-year agreement with EBA.
“We will hire more than 150 professionals for both the TV and radio, which will be adding to the 4000 health professionals we are working with,” Bahiru told Fortune.
Afri Radio will have content focusing on health issues but also comprises business and social problems, according to Mellon Kebede (MD), CEO of Afri Health Trading, who started the company with 100 million Br capital.
J-FM, which will broadcast on the FM 106.7 frequency, and under Muarse, is the third station. Muarse is the sister company of JTV Ethiopia, owned and managed, by the young musician Yossef Gebre, better known as Jossy. Broadcasting will start within three months, according to sources from JTV.
The three radio stations will be the first to join the market since Ahadu FM, by Eddie Steeler Trading, and Ethio-FM, owned by One Love, who joined the market last year. The broadcaster, Arki secured a deal back in 2016, but the deal was terminated.
“There will now be better competition. But there is a need to create a competitive environment based on the quality of content so that the broadcasters do not perish right away,” says Teshager Shiferaw (PhD), a lecturer at the Addis Abeba University’s School of Journalism.
The Broadcasting Authority was established over a decade ago. It has the power and duty to control illegal transitions, and plan, permit and control the use of the radio wave allocated for broadcasting service.
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