Independent Magazine in Ethiopia Shut Down

By Betre Yacob.

ebony One of the few independent Ethiopian magazines, Ebony, has been shut down  after 6 years of publishing, putting many full-time and part-time workers out  of a job. Tessema Dessalgn, the shear holder and editor in chief of the  magazine, told to journalists today that they had closed the magazine  because of exaggerated tax.

 “We hadn’t other option but to shut down the magazine” Tessema told to  journalists. “The tax was so exaggerated, and impossible to us to manage.  We didn’t have even the half of the requested amount”, he explained.  Tessema said that the tax had come while they had already been in a serious  financial fall caused by the alarmingly rising cost of paper and other printing  materials.

 Ebony was one of the magazines circulated at national level, and known for  its political, social, and entertainment stories. It began operating 6 years  ago focusing only on entertainment. It exclusively began covering political  issues in 2012.

 Different reports shows the magazine was targeted by authorities after it  began to cover political issues. Frequently, the copies of the magazine were  confiscated by the authorities. Moreover, it had faced several challenges  from printing companies; they were not voluntary to print the magazine  claiming that they had been informed by the regime’s security agents not to  print the magazine.

 Journalists working for Ebony were also the main target of the authorities.  They used to be subjected to harassment, humiliation, and other serious  violence as a result of their job. For instance, the former Editor in Chief of the Magazine, Bisrat Woldemichael, was kidnapped and beaten by 4 armed intelligent and security agents on 28 August, 2013.

Exaggerated Tax-The new Strategy

The cost of paper and other printing materials are sky rocket in Ethiopia, dramatically increasing the printing price. Printing companies and publishers blame government for the problem. They claim that the price is artificial, and has been blown up because of the exaggerated tariff the government impose on paper and other printing materials.

The exaggerated printing price is not the only challenge the independent publications are facing in Ethiopia. The government imposes exaggerated tax too on them. For instance, in a recent case, 143,000 ETB was imposed on a local newspaper, Ethio-Mihidar. The amount is equivalent to its annual gross revenue.

The alarmingly increasing printing price and exaggerated tax are seriously smashing the independent private publications in Ethiopia. It is paralysing them causing them to serious economic crisis, and is forcing the weak ones to get out of the market.

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