Since mid – 2018 Ethiopia has been reviewing and amending laws that regulate institutions of democratic governance, the private sector and civil society. Policy and regulatory reform processes in the context of political transition are characterized by a brief window of opportunity before consolidation of democracy or otherwise. It is critical that major media policy, legal and regulatory reforms in Ethiopia take advantage of the opportunities presented during this transitional period. Using this window of opportunity three media – related laws were drafted; the Media Proclamation, the Freedom of Information Proclamation and Computer Crimes
Proclamation. Yet, there is a gap in the understanding and executing their duties in accordance with these new laws.
In an effort to bridge this gap, MERSA Media Institute seeks to increase the knowledge of the state and regional media regulators on how to interpret and implement Ethiopia’s new Media Laws. With this objective in mind, MERSA Media Institute organized three consecutive (running for three consecutive weeks) two – days training and discussion forum for state media regulators, parliamentarians, state media and private media; from December 04 to December 19, 2021.
The first event to kick – start this effort was held on December 04 & 05, 2021 in Adama, Ethiopia for state regulators from Ethiopian Media Authority (EMA). On December 04, 2021 Solomon Goshu, a media law expert and the chairperson of the Media Law Working Group presented the process of the drafting, major departures from the previous legislation, the major provisions and structure of the proclamation and further discussed on the Draft Ethiopian Programming Code. The participants of the training were fully engaged and raised concerns and questions that were answered by Solomon.
The afternoon session consisted of a presentation on “The challenges of Media Regulation in Ethiopia” by Mohammed Edris, the director of the Ethiopian Media Authority. This session also had a robust discussion between the participants and the director on what these challenges to regulate the media in Ethiopia are; questions and concerns were raised by the participants and were addressed in length by Mr. Mohammed. The session on December 05, 2021 consisted of a brief description of the policy direction on the Ethiopia Media and discussions on the new media directives. Gizaw Tesfaye, the Deputy – Director of the Ethiopian Media Authority presented the brief description of the policy direction on the Ethiopia Media and discussed 9 new media directives with the participants. The directives that were discussed were: Draft Community Broadcasting Directive, Draft Commercial Broadcasting Directive, Draft Public Broadcasting Directive, Draft Special Public Broadcasting Service Directive, Draft Online Media Directive, Draft Complaint Handling Directive, Draft Board Directive, Draft Periodicals Directive and Draft Subscription Broadcasting Directive. A round of discussions on the presented directives were held between the participants and Gizaw. This was the last session of the day and concluded the two – days training and discussion of December 04 and 05, 2021.