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Media Outlets in Albania

The number of media outlets in Albania is relatively high compared to the country’s population. The right to establish a media outlet is guaranteed by law for all individuals and organisations.

Print media

The number of newspapers and magazines published all over the country is more than 200. But there is no official list of the country’s print media. There are no official and certified data on the circulation and sales of newspapers in Albania. Print media are not obliged to publish their circulation and sales. According to unofficial data, the most widely sold newspaper in the country doesn’t exceed 20 000 copies a day, while most of the newspapers sell less than 1 000 copies a day.

Due to global and local crises, print media in the country are facing a difficult economic situation. Two national newspapers, namely Korrieri and Republika, have closed their print edition a decade ago. In April 2015, two sports newspapers, Sporti Shqiptar and Sport Plus, closed as well. In 2016, the third largest newspaper, Shqip, also cancelled its print edition. An especially difficult situation is noted among local newspapers, resulting in closing of their print versions or reducing their periodicity of publishing. The state does not provide any financial support in press distribution. The local authorities have no consent on the selling chain for newspapers and magazines.

Radio and television

By the end of 2015 there were two national TVs, two satellite TVs, one foreign TV channel (TV5 MONDE) and 66 local television channels broadcasting on analogue platforms, in addition to 83 cable television channels, broadcast all over the country. Albania has one public broadcaster (RTSH) with three local branches. The public television operates two national programmes and during the preparations for digital switchover they have started five thematic channels. A wider spread in recent years is marked by three commercial digital platforms: Digitalb, Tring and Supersport.

The cable stations are found in almost every city or small town. They do not produce their own content but offer a mix of Albanian and foreign programmes at generally convenient prices, ranging from 300 Albanian Lek (ALL) (approximately 2.20 Euros) to 800 ALL (approximately 5.90 Euros) per month. In many cases however, cable stations have become a source of concern regarding the respect of intellectual property, or piracy.

Albanian national TV channels are well established media entities. They have the largest number of employees. Most of the national media are located in the capital city of Tirana. According to the Union of Albanian Journalists, around 5 000 employees are employed in the media sector, from which 1 500 are journalists. Around 870 are members of the Union of Albanian Journalists.

As for the audio broadcasting media, Albania has 71 local FM radio stations and two national commercial radio stations, operating in addition to the channels of public station Radio Tirana and its regional branches. Radio Tirana operates in two national programmes and broadcasts also different programmes addressed to Albanians abroad. Among Albanian media outlets, commercial television stations, either local or national, appear to be the main sources of information, in view of their considerable coverage and due to their free reception.

An ongoing debate has been developed in the past years, having in focus the role and the functioning of public broadcaster, RTSH. Technically RTSH covers about 90 percent of the Albanian territory, but its audience is extremely low. The main reason for that is related to the fact that the editorial policy of RTSH is heavily controlled by government interests. According to the Law on Audiovisual Media, the highest governing body of the public broadcaster RTSH is its Steering Committee. By law, the members of the Steering Committee are proposed by civil society organisations, academia, and professional organisations. But at the end of the process they are elected by the parliament, who shortlists candidates in accordance with their political affiliation. As a result, the Steering Committee is hardly a representation of the society, but rather a reflection of the divisions in the parliament and their respective preferences.

With approximately the same formula are elected the members of the Audiovisual Media Authority (AMA). In theory, a wide participation from civil society organisations is encouraged. However, their mandate only allows nominating candidates. In reality civil society is regularly accused of choosing candidates because of political interests, leading to the fact that nominations are political ones. Another critical aspect that should be addressed is the lack of space for civil society in the programmes offered by the public broadcasters. Activities and initiatives of CSO’s are rarely covered and reported by RTSH news programmes or other programmes.

Internet

The spread of the Internet has been slow, with significant improvements over the last years, but quite below the European average. Slowly online media and blogs have gained ground, but their influence is limited by low Internet penetration rates.

Jonila Godole, Head of the Institute for Democracy, Media and Culture

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