It is as if there is a great gold rush, of a different sort, in the making, claims gossip.

It is as if there is a great gold rush, of a different sort, in the making, claims gossip. Suddenly, what has been perceived for far too long as impossible has become possible. Whether or not the government gives its nod of approval, individuals can run television broadcast services, beaming whatever content they consider grabs the attention through satellite transmissions.

Pioneers of this venture are Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) and the Ethiopian Broadcasting Services (EBS) – both based in the US, but with the ability to broadcast to Ethiopia and beyond. Recently, many more have burst on to the scene, with brands such as the Oromia Media Network (OMN), JTV and Nahoo. But none appears to be as sensational and dramatic as the latest addition to the ball game – Kana TV.

Owned by a Dubai based company, Moby Group, in partnership with four businessmen from Ethiopia, its broadcasting of Indian and Brazilian melodramas with Amharic voiceovers has given it an instant success – perhaps far beyond its initiators’ imaginations. Households in the capital, and throughout the country, have residents glued to their TV sets, entertained by ‘soaps’ from Kana TV. The benefit has not been limited to their viewers, gossip observed. Many in the government, the private sector and party-affiliated entities are now keen to join the fray. One such party-affiliated entity is Walta Information Centre S. C., whose official website had been visited by 36.5 million people up until late last week.

Walta was first incorporated in 1996, with 2.9 million Br in capital. This was contributed to by four endowment companies – EFFORT, TIRIT, TUMSA and WONDO – with each controlling 24.9pc of the shares. Through the years, it has evolved into more of a production house for documentary films, while having within its DNA a news agency and data processing firm.

Lately though, Walta has become a subject of intense controversy and squabble in the corridors of power. This came after its managers decided to launch a little known satellite television channel, bearing the company’s name, says gossip. Beamed from Nilesat, on a horizontal frequency of 12604, the initiative was abruptly interrupted after the company promised the launch its services on April 1, 2016.

It left behind murky political affairs within the ruling party, whose top officials were reportedly unaware of the service. The same was also true for the Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority, which has been caught off guard on how to regulate broadcasters outside their jurisdiction, gossip disclosed. They are now franticly attempting to make a distinction between broadcasters beaming content from outside and those who actually upload content from within the country, claims gossip.

To their utter dismay, Walta was found to be uploading content using facilities owned by the national television broadcaster, claims gossip. Gossip anticipates that this lapse by its managers may soon lead to a change of guard at the Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC). Nonetheless, Walta’s managers have already paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to lease the slot from the Nilesat, thus causing sharp differences within the political leadership on what to do next, claims gossip.

Some would want to let bygones be bygones, and provide some sort of licence to Walta to resume its broadcasting, claims gossip. There are those, however, although they appear to be few, who see Walta’s move as a transgression, and are determined to keep it away from the industry, gossip disclosed.

Published on May 17,2016 [ Vol 17 ,No 837]



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