Ethiopia vs. VOA: Acting Director Says ‘I want to set the record straight’

Voice of America's Executive Editor responded to the recent controversy regarding VOA's Horn of Africa programs.

Tadias Magazine
By Tadias Staff

Updated: Tuesday, July 12, 2011

New York (Tadias) – Voice of America’s Acting Director and Executive Editor, Steve Redisch, has told Tadias Magazine that the recent controversy surrounding the removal of a June 23rd content from the broadcaster’s Amharic website was “consistent with VOA’s standards of accuracy.”

Redisch also said VOA’s characterization of a meeting on June 22nd, 2011 between members of the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors and Ethiopian Communication Affairs Minister Bereket Simon was ‘inaccurate.’

Abebe Gellaw had reported in his regular column published on Thursday, July 7, 2011 in Addis Voice, quoting “informed sources” inside the VOA, that the suspension of David Arnold, VOA’s Horn of Africa Chief, was a result of a dispute related to his comments in a news report that was broadcast on VOA Amharic service on June 23rd. According to Addis Voice, Mr. Arnold, who was part of a seven-member U.S delegation that met with Ethiopian officials in Addis Ababa last month, had said on VOA Amharic that the Ethiopian government had put forward a demand to the BBG delegation that VOA deny platform to its vocal critics as a precondition to cooperate with the station.

Mr. Redisch did not specifically deny Mr. Gellaw’s report concerning the circumstances of Mr. Arnold’s suspension.

“There have been inaccurate reports about the tone and substance of an official meeting on June 22 between members of the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors and Ethiopian Communication Affairs Minister Bereket Simon,” Mr. Redisch said in a letter response to a series of follow-up questions posed by Tadias Magazine. “I want to set the record straight.”

Mr. Redisch said: “BBG Governors Susan McCue, Dana Perino and Michael Meehan held a frank dialogue on a number of issues. Board members urged the Ethiopian government to allow VOA to broadcast on FM stations in Ethiopia, sought to advance the role of media freedom in the country, and stressed the importance of VOA’s mission to provide accurate news and information to audiences there. The government presented its list of complaints about VOA programming. The Governors promised to review those complaints, a process that is currently underway.”

And regarding the removal of audio and text files of a news report from VOA’s Amharic service website?

“A report that aired June 23 on VOA Horn of Africa programs and appeared on its website inaccurately characterized the nature of Ethiopian government complaints about VOA’s programs,” Mr. Redisch said. “Contrary to the VOA report, at no time did Ethiopian government officials ask the Board members to prohibit any individuals from appearing on VOA programs…Consistent with VOA’s standards of accuracy and not for reasons of self-censorship, the report was taken off the website.”

Mr. Redisch adds: “The inaccurate reporting of the meeting has overshadowed the intent of the Governor’s mission. Simply put, it was an opportunity to advance VOA’s mission: to provide reliable, accurate and balanced information to our audiences. And those audiences will be the barometer of our future success.”

In other news:
Famine Returns to East Africa

13 Responses to “Ethiopia vs. VOA: Acting Director Says ‘I want to set the record straight’”


  1. 1 Temeramari Jul 11th, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    VOA Ethiopia is the best!! Long live VOA!

  2. 2 Jagama Gebeta Jul 11th, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    I don’t know if you have heard but Mr. Arnold got his groove back. He is back at his old job. It shows me Ethiopian Diaspora media has matured.

  3. 3 Mesfin Jul 11th, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    Ok, well it sounds awfully suspicious. A disgruntled VOA reporter or back tracking VOA leadership. Either wa Meles Zenawi, ultimately Ethiopia for the win. Thank you :-D

  4. 4 Lensa Jul 12th, 2011 at 12:05 am

    What good comes out of censoring information, except to breed ignorance?

  5. 5 wei good Jul 12th, 2011 at 12:22 am

    So VOA wants to broadcast on local FM stations in Ethiopia? …on your local station in Addis is ‘ recipe’ for chaos.

  6. 6 Tirusew Jul 12th, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    I grew up with VOA, most of us grew up with VOA, but we always listened to it quietly, because people in charge, be it derg or current, all have some kind of beef with voa. why? because voa speaks truth to power. Leave VOA ALONE!

  7. 7 Melaku Jul 13th, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    I like that information is power!

  8. 8 Ewnetu Jul 13th, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    I trust Abebe Gellaw’s report on this matter on the Ethiomedia since “Mr. Redisch did not specifically deny Mr. Gellaw’s report concerning the circumstances of Mr. Arnold’s suspension.” He also describes the BBG mission as, “Simply put, it was an opportunity to advance VOA’s mission: to provide reliable, accurate and balanced information to our audiences.” We just want to tell Mr. Redisch we will be watching and follow up on how reliable and accurate information the tplf junta in Ethiopia (known for double digit economic growth boondoogle and a lot of empty propoganda in all areas) can give. Also, by “Balanced information” we anticipate the opposition’s view to be expressed in any matter the regime is involved. Let’s hope the VOA to keep its historical value of siding with the facts no matter what.

  9. 9 Meaza Chekol Jul 15th, 2011 at 12:57 am

    In a greater scheme of things VOA is a big organization payed for by the tax-payers of the United States of America. Charging censorship is a bit of jump. What we are witnessing is VOA pretending to bend backward to accommodate the Ethiopian government because current technology demands that VOA cooperates with the Ethiopian government in order to reach its audience in the country. Sooner or later, the demands of the Ethiopian government will be made public because the boss of VOA are the American people. Now, democracy also demands order and process. So let’s give VOA the space and time it needs for the process of reviewing the complaints lodged by the Ethiopian government. Glad to know that David Arnold is back at his job, but he deserved the suspension. I suspect he licked info before he was authorized to do so! His sin is not that he misspoke, but rather he spoke too soon! But the problem has now been resolved to Mr. Arnold’s satisfaction.

  10. 10 Ras Mitat Jul 15th, 2011 at 12:59 am

    What does VOA mean? VOA means Voice of America. Voice of America is American propaganda. Period.

  11. 11 One Ethio Jul 15th, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    ras mitat!

    you just another…you don’t get it

  12. 12 Solomon Jul 18th, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    VOA has been trusted source of information to the people of Ethiopia. I have the most respect to them. Specailly at this time, where media and government are only sources and rampant violation of human rights prevails in Ethiopia, VOA is an important tool ever to get information to the public.

    On the other hand, VOA broadcasting was pilar to represent the United States, its people the notion of “we the people” to the Ethiopian people! It looks like this time “immaturity” is creeping up. I hope the legendary broadcasting will emerge better and stronger and not another ETV or Radio Fanna broadcasting single concept and ideas and denying facts of self inflicted damages to the Ethiopia. The later will kill the media giant and make it irrelevant to all of us.

  13. 13 Queen Saba Jul 18th, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Ras Mitat,

    Really? Maybe Advil may help :-)

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