Index 2024
141/ 180
Score : 41.37
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator
Index 2023
130/ 180
Score : 47.7
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator

Devastated by inter-ethnic conflict and a civil war, most of the recent gains in press freedom have been reversed. Journalists’ fear of reprisals were reignited by the conflict in the Amhara region, which began a few months after a peace agreement was signed in November 2022 formally ending the Tigray war. 

Media landscape

The media landscape under Abiy Ahmed, who came to power in 2018, remains very polarised and is characterised by opinion journalism to the detriment of fact-checking. It is, however, more open and pluralistic than under the previous regime, and more than 200 once-banned media outlets are now authorised. Radio remains the most popular medium. Fana FMSheger FM and many regional radio stations have big audiences. The best-known privately owned TV channels are Kana, EBS and Fana BC. The few newspapers that appear in print are mostly read by urban elites. The Reporter is the most respected independent weekly newspaper.

Political context

Both the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) and federal government have used propaganda in an attempt to control the narrative about the civil war, creating disinformation on social media that is picked up by the media. The government’s determined efforts to take control of the narrative have included creating a “fact-checking” platform. Made to look like a media outlet, it is actually used as a conduit to relay the government’s message, and uses unverified facts and disinformation to discredit dissenting voices. Meanwhile, the Media Regulatory Authority (EBA) is a government tool that does nothing to promote quality independent journalism.

Legal framework

A new media law adopted in 2021 offers a more liberal and protective legal framework for journalists. Defamation has been decriminalised and the confidentiality of journalists’ sources is protected. In practice, however, this new law is usually circumvented and does not prevent the arrests of journalists. The law on anti-terrorism and the more recent law on hate speech contain very vague provisions, with heavy prison sentences, that can be used against outspoken journalists. The state of emergency proclaimed in the Amhara region in August 2023 makes it possible to override all legal provisions protecting journalists. 

Economic context

Very low salaries, the increasing cost of living and corruption put the professional integrity of journalists to the test. A handful of businessmen own most of the leading media outlets, which poses problems for media independence, while the cost of creating a new media outlet, especially in the broadcast sector, is a significant deterrent.

Sociocultural context

Ethnic, regionalist and political considerations are a major concern at many Ethiopian media outlets to the detriment of independent, pluralistic and balanced journalism. Self-censorship is widespread, including among journalists.


The upsurge in abuses committed against journalists, seen during the war in Tigray at the end of 2020, continues, especially since the start of tensions in the Amhara region. Several journalists were killed in unclear circumstances during the Tigray war. Many reporters whose coverage of the Tigray and Amhara conflicts were not aligned with the government line have been detained on serious charges such as “promoting terrorism”. Journalists are sometimes incarcerated in military camps in the middle of the desert. Hostility towards foreign media was seen again in early 2023, when the authorities suspended around 15 foreign TV channels for allegedly operating without a licence. 

Abuses in real time in Ethiopia

Killed since 1st January 2024
0 journalists
0 media workers
Detained as of today
15 journalists
0 media workers