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Public on October 23, 2015, and last updated 1 year ago.
Ethiopian Satellite Television (known as ESAT) is an Ethiopian satellite news network headquartered in Washington D.C., United States. It is a nonprofit and independent media outlet mostly privately funded by donors from the broader Ethiopian diaspora.

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What is ESAT?

The Ethiopian Satellite Television & Radio (ESAT) is a nonprofit and independent media outlet established primarily to promote free press, democracy, respect for human rights, and the rule of law. It mainly serves Ethiopians back home and the Diaspora around the world.

It has three studios, Washington D.C., Amsterdam, and London (UK). Initially launched like a satellite and online TV project, ESAT added a daily radio broadcast in September 2011. ESAT’s multimedia contents are now available on various platforms including Android and IOS apps. ESAT has also got a strong social media presence posting updates daily.  

Why was ESAT established?

The people of Ethiopia live under a regime that has criminalized free expression. The Committee to Protect Journalists has repeatedly designated the government as one of the leading enemies of press freedom in the world.

ESAT was established on April 24, 2010, by a group of leading exiled journalists, most of whom were jailed, tortured, or forced into exile, to provide accurate, objective, and balanced news, analysis and information, perspective as well as entertainment, talk shows, documentaries, sports and cultural programming pertaining to Ethiopia and the rest of the world.

What are its aims and objectives?

  • ESAT’s main objective is to provide free access to news and information that are unlikely to see the daylight in Ethiopia due to censorship and other forms of restrictions.
  • ESAT firmly believes that suppression of press freedom, persecution of journalists, and interference in the free flow of information is harmful and counterproductive to peace, stability, and the effort to build a democratic society.
  • ESAT believes that a well-functioning independent press is an essential element of a democratic system by holding those in power accountable. Exposing corruption, abuse of power, human rights violations, and discrimination is the job of the media.
  • ESAT also believes that without free access to information and ideas, citizens are unable to participate meaningfully in the political system.

Who owns ESAT?

Funded by Ethiopian communities around the world, ESAT is a grassroots media project under the Foundation of Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT), a non-governmental organization registered under the Dutch Chamber of Commerce and the Advocates for Media and Democracy in Ethiopia, a nonprofit organization incorporated in the United States. ESAT is powered by a broad-based collective of exiled journalists, human rights advocates, civil society leaders, and members in the Diaspora deeply committed to the principles of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

What types of programming does ESAT produce?

ESAT produces a range of contents daily including news, in-depth analysis, features, documentaries, panel discussions, interviews, entertainment, sports, historical and cultural programs. Every effort is made in the programming to reflect the diversity of opinions as well as the plurality of Ethiopians while ensuring that the content conforms to the strict guidelines of ESAT’s editorial policy.

Where does ESAT get its funding?

Currently, ESAT relies on the support it receives from individual donors and contributions from the Ethiopian Diaspora. Efforts are being made to get institutional support from organizations that promote democratization and press freedom.

Why support ESAT?

Ethiopia is one of the countries in the world with the worst record of press freedom. After the 2005 disputed elections, scores of popular independent newspapers have been closed down. In the last few years alone, a number of journalists have been harassed, persecuted, tortured, and jailed for doing their jobs. Over 150 journalists have been forced into exile within the last five years.

The Ethiopian government controls almost all electronic media outlets. The state-run media is solely focused on propaganda and shuts out critical views. ESAT aspires to fill that void so that the Ethiopian people will have unfettered access to information, diverse viewpoints, and perspectives.

Freedom of information is a fundamental human right. Every Ethiopian citizen has the constitutional and internationally-guaranteed legal right “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers and without interference, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through other media of his choice and without censorship in any form.”

What challenges ESAT has faced so far?

The major challenge is the effort of the Ethiopian government to silence ESAT using signal jamming technology mainly supplied by the Chinese government. ESAT has been jammed nearly 24 times. But the efforts have proven to be futile as a resilient media making every effort to stay on air despite financial constraints. 

The time, energy and financial sacrifices paid to launch ESAT are incalculable. It also takes enormous resources to sustain a satellite television project of this magnitude and put it on a strong foundation. We need the help of freedom-loving Ethiopians and global advocates of free media to cover the costs of original programming, technical services, special productions, and other activities necessary to keep ESAT on air.

How can one contribute to ESAT?

ESAT relies on the contribution of its supporters to stay on-air. Supporters can make recurring monthly contributions or a one-time donation through bank transfer or automatic credit or debit card charges directly from ESAT Support Page.

ESAT is always open to financial, technical, and moral support. It also welcomes ideas for partnerships and collaborations in the advancement of our mission to help create a free and open society.

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