Ethiopian Idols is the country’s most-watched show

On Ethiopia’s state-run television station, Ethiopian Idols has “fast won the highest ratings” even though “most of the 77 million people cannot afford a TV set.”

Sporting the “Idol” name and the familiar oval logo (although a slightly more amateurish version) the show was produced without a license from creator Fremantle Media. The company, “which owns the global intellectual rights, said it does not want to force ‘Ethiopian Idols’ off the air but does intend to charge a fee per episode,” according to the AP.

Judge Feleke Hailu says that contestants have a hard time when he rejects them. “The problem is in our culture. It is not common to tell the truth or criticize. People cannot take criticism,” he said.

One contestant, Natinel Amsalu, told the AP that the judges are “criminals. … I am a very good singer but the judges kept saying I had serious problems reaching the high notes. They did not even listen to me. What they have done is a very bad thing. They made me look a fool.”

Apparently, even self-delusion is universal.

‘Ethiopian Idols’ Offers Hope Amid Poverty [AP]

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.