What is wrong with Ethiopian con artists in London?

By Bilen Birhanu

London, February 13, 2007: There is a weekly TV programme in London that not even members of the Ethiopian embassy and their family watch seriously. The majority of Ethiopians living in London call it the kitchen TV for its mediocre content and production. Its founder Endale Beyene, who is famous more for his pathetic lies than his journalism, grandiosely calls it Ethiopian Worldwide Television. To anyone who hasn’t got any idea how this TV programme is produced, let me share what I came to learn during my brief encounter with EWT. Boring propaganda materials from the Ethiopian Television are clipped, cut and pasted and sent to cable TV broadcasters in video cassettes. EWT has no multi-million pounds studio as the owner claims. A number of innocent Ethiopians who ventured to “work” for Endale have been disappointed, not just for the pathetic pay and cheating but for his endless pack of lies.

Rejected by the Eritrean Embassy in London to finance his “TV” project, Endale was quick to knock the doors of the Ethiopian Embassy. Again he has gone to Addis to make the usual kind of stratospheric claims in poor Ethiopia where little is known about the respected “investor.”

According to Endale, “A survey has shown that the estimated number of viewers of EWT reaches 10.4 million. We have managed to attract the attention of 65% of the black community in the UK. The figure has been improving every year since our launch in January 2004.” God knows who the surveyor is.

Simple questions to the respected broadcaster. How many Ethiopians live in the Diaspora? 10.4 million? Let us assume that all of them watch ETV, which hasn’t got anything near 10 million viewers, via Endale Beyene. All of Endale’s 10.4 million TV fans must be his family members and die hard TPLF cadres, who have been forced to watch the unwatchable, multiplied by 10 million. The outrageous liar also tells us that his TV broadcast attracts 65% of the black community in the UK. Do they also watch Endale? If Endale really wants to attract 10.4 million viewers across the world with no language barrier he should produce a TV programme called Endale’s endless lies. That may at least attract around 100 viewers, if not over 10 million.

The liar has no idea what he is talking about. Let alone his kitchen TV, even the BBC and Sky don’t enjoy that amount of figure. Back home people have heard the story of the millennium con artists from London, Mulugetta Asrate Kassa and Seyoum Bereded. According to a close friend, Ethiopians are now asking what has gone wrong with Ethiopians in London. That is a legitimate question. We know for sure that lies are kings in exile, but the outrageous ones have gone too far. Endale, who also calls himself investor, auditor, journalist and financier, has gone to Mars. Never doubt whatever he tells you! The first victim of a con artist, as they say, is himself. Enjoy Endale’s interview with capital newspaper.

Outside window on Ethiopia

 

Over the last three decades, Ethiopians have emigrated in droves and it is estimated there are now perhaps 1 million of us abroad. Somewhat euphemistically called ‘diaspora’, the overwhelming majority are found in the United States, where in some cites, they constitute a sizable minority. The second largest  concentration of Ethiopians is in the United Kingdom, a once traditional destination of choice for migrating Ethiopians. The Ethiopian community in the UK is a vibrant, eclectic diaspora which among many other accomplished personalities, includes Ato Endale Beyene , founder and CEO of Ethiopian World Television, one of a growing number of diaspora –run Ethiopian television channels. Capital’s Tedla Yeneakal caught up with the busy entrepreneur who also owns an auditing firm in the UK and discussed with him about EWT and its role on informing the Ethiopian community worldwide via the first
Ethiopian international satellite transmission channel. Excerpts follow:

How did EWT come to fruition?

Endale – Well, EWT was established with the main objective of promoting Ethiopia and improving the image of the country, which has been at times, associated with negative stereotypes like poverty, disease and war. EWT is the first Ethiopian television channel to introduce satellite based broadcasting across the world. It did so by creating an interactive platform for the Ethiopian community and friends of Ethiopia. I have been living in London for the past 18 years, working in my own, and thought that I need to promote my country alongside my regular job. When I conceived EWT, I read up to teach myself the profession of journalism. I proposed my idea to the Ethiopian embassy in London and showed them some parts of my program, and they were really supportive of the initiative. They helped me get in touch with the Ethiopian ministries of Information and of Foreign Affairs, respectively.

What’s EWT’s program content and broadcast arrangements?

Endale- Our programs are directly associated with the diverse cultures that make up our viewing audience. We can speak proudly of a programming content that is encompassing enough to attract a widely varied and cosmopolitan viewership. At the same time, we recognize the expectations of our core Ethiopian community and provide a service that meets the demand of this niche market. Our generic programs include news and current affairs, natural and historical wonders, trade and investment, family life, children’s programs, health, drama and music, sport and documentaries. EWT works in collaboration with Original Black Entertainment (OBT) Television, and covers the entire world to reach more than 10.4 million homes on the popular Sky channel, 159 on the Electronic Program Guide. The channels also reach more than 30 million satellite accessible digital homes. EWT is the first of its kind in broadcasting to the Ethiopian community across Europe and to other parts of the world from the United Kingdom. Our programmes are aired in Amharic for about 10 hrs a week on weekends, including re-runs.

How can you promote Ethiopia effectively, when the medium of transmission is our vernacular?

Endale- In fact, we promote our languages at world wide level because we use subtitles for every program. Although it takes a great deal of time, I think it is one of our assets. We also want the Ethiopian community abroad to know much more about their country. We should all ask ourselves How much do we know about the historical sites of our own country? You may be surprised to find that very few Ethiopians have visited or have knowledge about the churches of Lalibela, for example. So I think we need as many channels as possible in place with the aim of promoting the country.

Is EWT primarily a community TV focusing on diaspora matters or is it a comprehensive channel offering regular programming?

Endale- EWT is not a community TV. As I explained earlier, its ultimate goal is to depict Ethiopia’s positive side at interna tional level. We feature local events as well as programmes from around the world. We have associates and are affiliated to major British, American and Ethiopian production networks while looking for new areas of interest.

Since your launching, have you managed to be successful in regard to revenue?

Endale- EWT is not a profitable organization. We have good contacts with major advertisers like the Ethiopian Airlines, the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia and the Regional government of Oromia, who sponsor programmes that we produce. As you know, program production costs are high.

 

Have you applied for authorization to transmit to Ethiopia?

Endale- At the moment, we do not have any intention to transmit to Ethiopia. What we are trying to do now is to have a 24 hr channel on our own satellite before the start of the new millennium. Our programs are available on the internet but it is very difficult to access from here due to the poor internet connection.

A company based in the UK has conducted a survey of EWT’s viewers, what was the outcome?

Endale- The survey has shown that the estimated number of viewers of EWT reaches 10.4 million. We have managed to attract the attention of 65% of the black community in the UK. The figure has been improving every year since our launch in January 2004.

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Published in: on February 13, 2007 at 8:30 pm  Comments (20)