Albania Political Orientation
Government Type: Parliamentary Democracy
President: Bajram Begaj (largely symbolic role and is elected by the Parliament)
Prime Minister: Edi Rama (since 2013)
Political Party: Socialist Party of Albania
Political Position: Left
MBFC’s Country Freedom Rating: 62.43 – Moderate Freedom
World Press Freedom Rank: Albania 96/180
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranked Albania 103 out of 180 countries in its World Press Freedom Index. In their review of Albania, Reporters Without Borders points out the “partisan media regulation, organized crime” and the government’s failure to protect journalists even against “police violence.”
Media Ownership and Government Analysis
According to the BBC, business figures own most media except state-owned public broadcasters. TV is the primary source of information, and the leading public broadcaster is Radio Televizioni Shqiptar (Albanian Radio and Television), or RTSH, and its thematic channels. RTSH is funded by the Albanian government (30%), advertising, and broadcasting fees.
Media ownership is mainly concentrated in the hands of a few wealthy business people whose families own major private media groups. These owners also have construction and various business divisions. The top four owners of media groups are Irfan Hasan Hysenbelliu, who owns Erjoni LTD, Panorama Group, and Focus Group (News 24 TV channel). Koço Kokëdhima, former politician and owner of ‘Shekulli.’ also has construction, trade, and chemical industry companies. Henri Çili is the owner of Mapo Newspaper. Lastly, the Hoxha family controls the flagship name TOP as in TOP Channel TV, TOP News, and TOP Albania Radio. This concentration of cross-ownership of media outlets poses a high risk to media pluralism in the country.
Further, pro-opposition media owners often criticize The Albanian government. For example, following the demolition of his hotel pools, Irfan Hasan Hysenbelliu owned media, linked the demolition to its critical editorial line. The government responded that the company was “playing the role of a victim of media freedom” to cover violations of the laws by its owner.”
Regarding state advertising, “it is not significant financial revenue for media; however, it can play an essential role in the form of an indirect subsidy which can result in pro-government editorial coverage.”
Libel and defamation were decriminalized in 2012 but remain punishable as a misdemeanor by high fines. The Audiovisual Media Authority (AMA) regulates the licensing of radio and TV stations. The AMA has seven members which the Albanian Parliament appoints for five-year terms. The AMA has been criticized for being highly politicized. For example, in 2021, Armela Krasniqi was appointed as the chairwoman of the AMA, a close associate of Prime Minister Edi Rama, and previously worked for the Socialist Party.
In conclusion, Albanian media faces several challenges, such as the concentration of private media ownership and a lack of transparency of media funding, which causes concern regarding media pluralism in the country. In Albania, media, politics, and business are closely linked, contributing to widespread self-censorship among journalists.
Last Updated on May 12, 2023 by Media Bias Fact Check
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