Ethiopia has adopted a new tactic in its jamming of foreign radio broadcasts. It is now deliberately transmitting programmes from one of its own stations on the same frequencies as those used by Eritrean state radio. Relations between the two Horn of Africa countries have continued to be poor, following a border war in 1998-2000.
BBC Monitoring (BBCM) has been observing jamming of Eritrean broadcasts for several months. In November, shortwave transmissions to Ethiopia from the Voice of America (VOA) and Germany’s Deutsche Welle (DW) also began to be targeted by deliberate and severe noise interference. Also being jammed are various private opposition radio broadcasts, which hire airtime from commercial shortwave transmission facilities abroad to beam their programmes into Ethiopia.
Similar jamming operations against both Eritrean radio and the VOA have been observed in past years. The current jamming, however, appears to be particularly intense and systematic.
Eritrean state radio is now suffering deliberate interference from a radio station in northern Ethiopia.
The station, Voice of the Tigray Revolution, is operated by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), the leading component of the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front. The EPRDF is the umbrella group which has run the country since the overthrow of the communist leader, Mengistu Haile Mariam, in 1991.
Voice of the Tigray Revolution is based in Mekele, capital of Tigray Regional State in northern Ethiopia, bordering Eritrea. Prior to Mengistu’s downfall, it was operated as a clandestine station by guerrillas fighting the Addis Ababa government.
On 18 and 19 December, BBCM heard Eritrean radio suffering severe interference from Voice of the Tigray Revolution. The interference affected the shortwave transmissions of Voice of the Broad Masses of Eritrea (VOBME), as Eritrean state radio is known. Both of VOBME’s networks were affected.
Previously, VOBME’s channels had been obscured by jamming signals consisting of irritating noise.
VOBME’s two networks use the shortwave frequencies of 7100 and 7175 kHz. BBCM has noted for several months that Eritrean technicians attempt to mitigate the effects of the jamming by slightly varying their transmitters’ frequencies during broadcasts. But these attempts to dodge the jamming signals have limited success, as the jammers themselves eventually also move to the new spot on the dial.
(Source: BBC Monitoring research in English 19 Dec 07)