Albania 2012

Media, Society and Politics in Albania
Wiki compiled by Katarina Kanic, Amiel Nunes, Charmaine Cheung, Michael Zhou and Eleanor Crowe


Introduction and Brief National History

Albania is
albania-flag.gif
Official Flag of Albania
a small country in South-Eastern Europe, with a population of just under three million. Albania is a parliamentary democracy and is divided into 12 administrative counties, including 36 districts and 373 municipalities. Although Albania is a relatively young European nation, it has a colourful history in regards to social and political status. In 1912, Albania became independent from the nationalist Ottoman Empire, but was then conquered by Fascist Italy in 1939 and by Nazi Germany consecutively. Albania then became a socialist republic which saw immense economic prosperity amassed by the dictatorship until the regime's collapse in 1990. This transition aligned with the fall of communism throughout Europe, and the subsequent founding of the Republic of Albania the following year.

Despite it’s small size and youth, it is evident that Albania is a nation that has been subject to rapid political and social development. In regards to media ownership, changes in political systems such as the fall of communism have had a major impact. In 1991 the fight for democracy was finally consolidated, prompting not only the Government’s monopolisation of Albanian media, but the overall shift from old to new media forms. Although the Albanian constitution ideally allows for freedom of expression, the ‘intermingling of powerful business, political, and media interests’ (Freedom House, 2012) has hindered the prosperity of independent outlets. In this way, there is ‘freedom of the press, but no free press’ (Zogaj, 2002). Albania’s media landscape continues to shape and grow, and recognizable trends in relation to broadcast, print, and more recently online media have emerged.


Political and Economic Influences


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'The Five Heads of Marxism' courtesy of Espresso Stalinist 2012








After almost half a century of dictatorship under Enver Hoxha and his successor Ramiz Alia, Albania was left an impoverished, underdeveloped and primitive nation. The iron grip of communism stifled national economic development and modernisation to such a degree that in the 1990's, Albania was attributed the status of "least developed" nation by the United Nations (Kornegay, 1995).
Print and broadcast media were completely controlled during these dark years, serving purely as a voice of the autocracy. Albanian citizens found listening to foreign broadcast material would be harshly punished by the law.

In the early 1990's, amidst the decline of communism in Europe, the first non-government controlled newspaper was published in Albania (Kornegay, 1995). Various foreign aid agencies such as the IMF (International Media Fund), U.S. Information Agency and Cox Centre (Kornegay, 1995) began to assist the development of the newly 'free' nation and attempts were made to found a free press society. The foreign aid organisations held seminars for journalists interested in a democratic press and resourced funds to replace the country's archaic, pre-World War II media technologies (Kornegay 1995).
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Enver Hoxha c.1970


By 1993 a democratic free press was declared vital to the health of the country by then Albanian President and current Prime Minister, Mr Sali Berisha. Despite this public display of support for fair and balanced media communication, critics claim repressive tactics remain an instrument of government control.


Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović is quoted from her recent visit to Albania as saying: “Free media are persevering in Albania but suffer… from economic and political interests impeding on editorial independence” (OSCE, 2012). Recent changes to national law have meant that defamation charges will no longer attract a prison sentence. Mijatović urged for further decriminalisation and a total review of the freedom of information laws in Albania (OSCE, 2012).

Currently ranked 96 of 179 countries listed on the Press Freedom Index (Press Freedom, 2011/12), Albanian notions of a democratic press remain yet unrealised. In response to a recent legal ruling ordering the Albanian television station Top Channel TV to pay 400 000 Euros in damages to a politician who was (secretly) filmed committing sexual harassment in the workplace, pressfreedom.org said: "This decision is unacceptable and constitutes a serious violation of media freedom" (Press Freedom, 2012). The Top Channel TV ruling demonstrates how unprogressive Albania remains, although clear and evident steps are being made by the government to become otherwise.

Albanian Deputy Prime Minister Mr Edmond Haxhinasto has been appointed Chairman of the Council of Europe (COE) for the months of May through November 2012. In his various addresses to the council and associated stakeholders, Mr Haxinasto has sung the praises of the European alliance and it's core values of democracy and equality. He declared his country’s Chairmanship of the committee would operate under the motto “United in Diversity”, citing "the promotion of tolerance, dialogue and mutual understanding" among his top priorities as Chairman (COE, 2012). Albania will also be host to two democratically aligned conference events this year; "The Exchange on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue” in Durrës and “Living Together” in Tirana. (COE, 2012).

Albania is currently enjoying significant economic growth albeit from a low base, and with it the proliferation of telecommunication technology. Fixed line technology is still largely unavailable due to severe deficiencies in infrastructure, but mobile use is now one of the highest in Europe (Budde, 2012). The country has also benefited by "financial aid to build public institutions and improve cross-border co-operation under the EU’s Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance funding mechanism" (Budde, 2012).

History of Albanian Media Ownership

As of July 2012, Albania's population is said to be just over 3 million people (Albania 2012). The economy has progressed recently as a steady pace and currently most of the state enterprises have been privatised, except for large utility companies (Ilda Llondo n.d). However, the situation is quite different when it comes to the privatisation of media outlets that dated back from the early 90s: in fact almost all publications that were issued before 1990 have ceased, except for the daily newspaper of the Socialist Party and some niche publications.

Albania's media landscape has dramatically altered since the early 1990's, and is still changing today in spite of an extremely small market. Following thirteen years of developing private, supposedly independent media in the country, the number of media outlets have increased (Ilda Llondo 2012). All media outlets are widely perceived as being aligned with one of the two main parties and their coverage as being highly politicised (Warsaw 2011). At this point in time, broadcast news is quite developed but print and electronic media have followed different paths in development. Albania's media landscape has altered dramatically since the early 1990's, and has continued to change since then. After thirteen years of developing private, supposedly independent media in the country, the number of media outlets have increased rather than just levelling off. At this time, broadcast news is quite developed but print and electronic media have followed different paths of development.

Historically, Albanian media did not experience any form of privatisation. Zeri i Popullit was the most important newspaper under the communist regime, with a circulation of up to 120 000 copies (Ilda Llondo n.d). Other publications were owned by the state or if they weren't, institutions or organisations were under strict control and supervision. The concept of private ownership was unheard of and was not up for discussion. Even after the fall of the Communist rule, Zeri i Popullit survived and is still owned by the Socialist Party in Albania today.
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Foreign Secretary William Hague handing the UK Chairmanship of the Council of Europe to Albania, 23 May 2012. Picture courtesy © Council of Europe

Regarding broadcast media, the only existing broadcast media until 1995 was the state-owned radio and television, but has since become a public service radio and television, but still receives support from the State. The majority of Albanian media outlets emerged during the 1990's with Rilindja Demokratike, a daily newspaper of the democratic party, leading the way in 1991 (Ilda Llondo 2007). Due to economic reasons at the time, newspapers and magazines were the first in the country to experience a media boom. Broadcast media didn't start to truly emerge until the late 1990's. The first private TV station aired in 1995, and the first radio station following two years after. Ever since, the media landscape has seen a general increase in media outlets, in particular, broadcast media (Ilda Llondond).

The media landscape today is largely dominated by broadcast media, with limited newspaper circulation (Warsaw 2011). Depite the number of dailies had risen from two in 1991 to 19 in 2003, the circulation of all 19 dailies in total did not exceed that of the first paper in 1991. The main reason for such behaviour could be that the Albanian people did not long for information quite in the same way that perhaps did in 1991, after being in the unknown for almost 50 years. Also, the fact that a broad spectrum of broadcast media is available has allowed it to have the upper hand of the press.

In addition, Albania's system of distribution is also to be amended. Newspapers are only distributed in the major cities only and in some of these cities, citizens may not receive their paper until after midday (I Media in Albania, 2002). Another reason for the decrease in the amount of dailies being circulated is the fact that given 60% of the population live in the countryside, newspaper can be quite costly (I Media in Albania, 2002).


Who's Who in Albanian Media

Nikolle Lesi
Koco Kokedhima
Klan Group, first initiated by
the French, Julien Roche
Italian Edisud Group
German owned
WAZ-Mediengruppe
Owner of Koha Group

Owns beside the newspaper, a
sports newspaper, Koha magazine,
a radio station and a TV station.

Has not openly publicised
businesses aside from the media
but he's been known to be affiliated
with different political wings during
election time.
Owns Spekter Sh.a
as well as:
-the newspaper Shekulli
-Spekter magazine,
-Sport Shqiptar newspaper
-a radio station

Has now also extended
his business in
construction
Has now spread to the
ownership of Korrieri newspaper,
Klan magazine, a radio station,
TV Klan and Albanian Daily
News, the only daily in english

THe Klan group has a series of
businesses starting from
construction to their private
airline, ADA Air
Started sponsoring Gazeta Shqiptare
newspaper but then continued
with a radio station, Rash. This
Italian owned group has also
started a TV news-only station.
Bought from Albanian-
owned company Media
Vizion the majority of the
shares of Vizion Plus, an
important television station
in Tirana, which also has a
national-broadcasting license
and a digitial terrestial and
satellite multiplex
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Political Affiliations

Unlike in many other countries in the region, foreign ownership is definitely not an issue in Albanian media, but political influence certainly is. Attracting increasing attention is the controversial debate on the relation between media owners, politicians and businesses. The political affiliation of media outlets is not difficult to distinguish though very few would admit to political support at any time. Their logos may claim to be independent and impartial but according to recent developments at the turn of the millennium, it is clear that they are generally affiliated to a political wing (I Media in Albania, 2002).

The sale of TV Koha is a recent example of the sale of shares to politicians. Lesi, it's formal owner, sold the TV station to a group of politicians and businessmen. Agron Duka, businessman-turned-politican, and his brother Armand Duka, owns 25% each, Ardian Abazi owns 10%, whereas Lefter Koa, a businessman but now Mayor of Dures, home to the largest port in the country and an important city, owns 40% (Ilda Llondo, 2007). At present the TV station has stopped broadcasting but there is news of its re-emergence. It will be interesting to see the development of the TV station and its editorial policy considering that the main owners are the Minister of Agriculture and the Mayor of an important city, both of them businessmen, thus with strong interest to protect and promote.

Current Media Ownership

Ownership of the Main Radio and TV Stations
Media Outlet
Ownership
Coverage Area
Starting Year
TV Klan
Media 6 JSC.
Nationwide
1998
TVA
Arberia JSC.
Nationwide
1996
Top Channel
Top Channel Ltd.
Regional
2001
Top Albania Radio
Top Albania JSC.
Nationwide
1998
+2 Radio
Radio +2 JSC.
Nationwide
1998
Vizion +
Mediavizion JSC
Regional
1999
TV News 24
Edisud Radio-TV Ltd.
Regional
2002
Radio Rash
Edisud Radio-TV Ltd.
Regional
2000
Shijak TV
Media + JSC.
Regional
1995
Radio Tirana
Public Broadcaster
Nationwide
1938
TVSH
Public Broadcaster
Nationwide
1961
Source: NCRT, Department of Juridiction and Licences.

Albanian Media Companies in Closer detail

Public Network

Radio Televizioni Shqiptar (Albanian Radio and Television, RTSH) is the public broadcaster of Albanina based in Tirana. RTSH is the primary broadcaster of Albanina which runs three television stations, two digital television stations and three radio stations as well as four regional radio stations that broadacasts over the regionally to near by countries (Radio Televizioni Shqiptar).

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Radio Televizioni Shqiptar (RTSH)
Type of Network
Public Television and Radio Network
Country of Origin
Albania
Availability
National (available in analogue)
Tirana (available in digital)
International (on satellite and interenet via IPTV platforms)
Key People
Petri Beci (general director)
Established Date
November 28, 1938 (radio)
April 29, 1960 (telvision)
Former names
Radiodifuzioni dhe Televizioni Shqitar
Official Website
www.rtsh.al
Slogan
Radio Televizioni Publik Shqiptar
Example TV programs:
Program Name (original)
Format
Lajme
News
Rubrika Sportive
Sport Show
7 X 7
Talk Show
Java ne Parlament
Parliamentary Affairs

Private Network

TV Klan (Televizioni Klan) is a commerical television channel based in Tirana, Albania with national frequency coverage. The Television station is founded by a group of French businessmen, which makes it one of the few cases of foreign media ownership in Albania. The station covered approximately 45% of the national territory with analogue signal in 2006. The channel is available in Europe through DigitAlb and in North America through GlobeCast World TV.
The channel launched three (3) other HD channels such as Klan Kosova HD, ABC News Albania HD and the station is also known for being the first Albanian network to own a Satellite News Gathering Mobile Broacasting Studio (TV Klan).

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TV Klan (Televizioni Klan)
Type of Network
Private Television Network
Country of Origin
Albania
Availability
National (analogue)
Europe (DigitAlb)
North America (GlobeCast World TV)
Owned by
Aleksandër Frangaj (40%)
Alba Gina (40%)
Ervin Gjikola (20%
Picture
1080i (HDTV 16:9) (Since 4 March 2012)
Established Date
25 October 1997
Language
Albanian
Official Website
www.tvklan.al
Example TV programs:
Program Name (original)
Format
Opinion
Talk Show
xtra%20factor.jpg
X Factor Albania
Talent Show
MILIONERI%20INTERNET.jpg
Milioneri
Game Show
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CSI: New York
Drama

The Press

Shekulli (Century) is a daily newspaper published in Albanina. It was first established in 1997 based in Tirana. Publishing seven days a week making it the most frequently published newspaper in Albania. It also publishes weekly magazine Spekter and sports daily Sporti Shqiptar (Londo, 2007).
shekulli_com_al.jpg
Type: Daily Newspaper
Format: Berliner
Owner: Koco Kokedhima
Established Date: 12 September 1997
Political Alignment: Unaffiliated center left
Language: Albanian
Circulation: 22,167 (daily)
Official Website: www.shekulli.com.al


Gazeta Shqiptare (Albanian Newspaper) is a newspaper published in Albania, it made it's first publish in 1993.
gazeta-shqiptare_JPG.jpeg
Type: Daily Newspaper
Format: Berliner
Publisher: Gazeta Shqitare
Political Alignment: Unaffiliated center
Language: Albanian
Circulation: 9,677 (daily)
Official Website: http://www.balkanweb.com/gazetav5/

Broadcast Media Regulation

The broadcast media is fully and strictly regulated by the National Council of Radio and Televsion (NCRT). The NCRT is elected by the parliament for a maximum of "two, five year terms" and composed of seven members, one of whom is proposed by the president and the other six shared equally between the opposition and the majority. The NCRT acts both as licensing authority as well as the supervisor of legality in private broadcasting. The law provides the NCRT with full authority to transform the general rules provided by the law itself into further specific obligations for broadcasting operators (Londo, 2007).

**Some examples of current media regulation imposed by the NCRT;
  • Persons deprived of the capactiy to act by a court ruling, political parties and organisations, religious communities and associations, local government authorities or other state authorities are restricted to obtain a broadcast license.
  • Broacasters can obtain two kinds of licenses depending on their coverage; local and national. The criteria to be met for national licenses are stricter than those for local or regional licenses.
  • Holders of a local licenses can be a natural or legal person, with no limitation imposed on the establishment of a company.
  • Granting more than two (2) local broadcaster licenses to the same entity in the same territory is prohibited.
  • Natural persons (individuals who are not considered corporate entities) may not own a station that covers an area of more than 200 000 inhabitants, and no natural person can obtain a national license.
  • Legal persons (people who represent corporations and joint stock companies) can obtain a national license. The aim of this regulation on ownership is that legal persons are expected to have greater accountability and potential remunneration to third parties, as well as better control and standard of the quality of programs.
  • Limit on ownership stake by one entity in a national radio or TV station is 40 percent.

(**Source: NCRT, Department of Jurisdiction and Licenses).

Emerging Media Trends

Albania's media although very young, has gone through many changes particularly in the last 20 years. As the political system changed in 1991, it brought about the end of "media monopolisation" by the Albanian government, and the disappearance of all existing media at the time. Subsequently, new media emerged which included print, radio, television, and online electronic media such as blogs.

Print Media

Major changes in the period between 1990-1994 brought about eight new newspapers, replacing those that were previously controlled by the communist state. Currently, Albania publishes 26 national daily newspapers, which are predominantly privately owned. However, with such a high number of newspapers for a mere three million citizens in the country, the best selling newspaper only has a circulation of approximately 20 000. As such, it can be concluded that print media is not of particular importance in the country, as only 1,000 newspapers are sold each day. Despite the great number of newspapers published in the country, the decline of print media as an important source of information can also be attributed to the rapid emergence of electronic media.

Radio

The radio has always been a significant medium in Albania, used to deliver news and other information to the population. Radio Vlora was the first commercial radio established, which paved the way for subsequent radio stations in the country. The development of commercial television saw a decline in the use of the radio, however the radio is still the preferred medium in regards to coverage of the territory. There are currently 63 radio stations across the country, some of the popular stations including Top Albania Radio and Radio Tirana, which cover 72 per cent and 80.5 per cent of the territory respectively. Radio is also used as a form of entertainment, such as music and entertainment programs, as well as a source of information.

Television

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Digitalb broadcasting logo

The use of the television has become more prominent in recent years, the most popular including the creation of TV Klan in 1997 and TVA in 1996. Currently, there are 75 cable television stations however it is difficult to measure rates of television access due to a lack of systematic studies of the audience. It is known however, that the public broadcaster Albanian Radio Television (ART) reaches approximately 73 per cent of the country. The overall importance of the television has been rapidly increasing, which can be identified as as a media trend. The emergence of digital television, cable and satellite television has also increased television use in recent years. The first digital broadcasting platform, Digitalb, emerged on July 15, 2004 (Ilda Llondo, 2012), however did not cover all areas of the country, such as rural and remote communities. Digitalb has an increasingly growing amount of subscribers. Immediately after Digitalb, another company, SAT+ also emerged as a newcomer on the market but didn't' last long. Lastly, Tring TV entered the market in 2008. Also, Cable and satellite television were also established quite late, and it is recorded that the current number of cable television stations in Albania totals 75 (Ilda Llondo, 2012).

Online electronic Media

The greatest trend in media use in Albania is online, electronic media which is challenging traditional broadcast media in popularity. As in many parts of the world, traditional media have established online websites to appeal to a greater number of people. Some of the most visited websites include Balkanweb, Top Channel TV and Tema Newspaper. It was recorded that Top Channel TV has approximately 200 000 visitors, and that Balkanweb has over 120 000 visitors. Blogs are also quickly becoming trends in media, with a number of journalists creating blogs to voice their personal opinions on mainly political issues. Popular journalist Fatos Lubonja has his own blogspot, and Ardian Vehbiu has a wordpress. These blogs contain recurrent themes which are mainly political, and are most often seen in daily newspapers. The appeal of blogs can be attributed to the fact that readers are able to voice their opinions through forums- something they were not able to do previously- and access to a less regulated public space that traditional media formats lack. Thus, online electronic media can be seen as an emerging media trend.

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