Asmelash Woldeselassie kept Mimi Sebhatu’s FM radio on-air, despite the ultimatum from EBA’s Director General Zeray Asgedom.
The Board of Ethiopian Broadcasting Authority (EBA) is to review the case of FM 90.7 (a.k.a Zami FM radio), Mimi Sebhatu disclosed today. The radio was brought to the brink of closure last Thursday due to a disagreement with the EBA, as HornAffairs reported then.
Speaking on her weekly radio show on Sunday, Mimi Sebhatu confirmed that the dispute arose due to Artist Daniel Tegegn. The man had been at loggerheads with EthiopikaLink, a popular show hosted on the radio, which he believes defamed him. However, Mimi Sebhatu claims he was given several chances to respond on the show but failed to use them.
The latest trouble arose after the man was convicted for beating a journalist of EthiopikaLink and the latter reported the court’s decision. He lodged complaint to EBA claiming that the show was targeting him.
Subsequently, EBA issued a letter demanding the radio takes down EthiopikaLink. The radio’s refusal to comply with that order prompted EBA’s Director General to issue a last warning that the license will be revoked, Mimi Sebhatu narrated.
On their last meeting, on June 17, EBA’s Director General insisted on the implementation of the order to take down the show is not negotiable, lest they wish to face closure, according to Mimi Sebhatu.
The following day, the radio issued a letter of termination of services as of 2 pm that day saying, “we feel obliged to adhere to the order of EBA even though the order is unlawful.”
Before the 2 pm rendezvous, the radio was told to continue its services by Asmelash Woldeselassie, chair of EBA’s Board.
According to HornAffairs’ sources, Asmelash Woldeselassie spoke with the management of the radio and EthiopikaLink’s editors, in the absence of EBA’s Director General. The details of the conversation are not known fully yet.
At a previous meeting, Asmelash Woldeselassie told the radio’s management “to resolve the matter through discussion”, according to HornAffairs’ sources. That probably assured EBA’s Director General that the Board would not interfere in the matter.
While the legal grounds for EBA’s orders are dubious, it is not clear if the Board chairperson has the mandate to pull rank over the Director General in this particular matter.
Board chair Asmelash Woldeselassie is a special legal advisor to the Prime Minister and chair of the Parliament’s Legal and Administrative affairs Standing Committee. Asmelash, visually impaired, is one of the powerful technocrats who keep low profile. He is a member of the 45-person TPLF central committee and veteran of the armed struggle, where he lost his sight.
EBA Director General Zeray Asgedom is also a veteran of the armed struggle. Though he was retired with honor from TPLF’s central committee in 2013, he is still a force to be reckoned with. He was serving as Director General of the state-owned TV and radio services until last year. The fact that Walta Information Center – ruling party parastatals’ cash cow – was kept away from the state TV for years, during his tenure, indicates his political muscle and the length he can go when he wishes to.
Tuesday’s EBA Board meeting – where the matter will be reviewed – could turn out to be an intense politico-legal wrestling if neither of them changed their mind in advance.
FM 90.7 was one of the first two FM radios licensed nine years ago.
Please read the previous news: Ethiopia: Gov’t moves to shut down MiMi Sebhatu’s FM radio