Albania | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Albania

Albania

Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

49

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

18

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

14

Although the constitution provides for freedom of expression, political interference in the media remains a serious problem. The majority of media outlets are affiliated with a political party; public television continues to function as a medium for government propaganda, regardless of the political party in power. Legislation was passed in 2003 requiring balanced party representation on public television's board of directors. Nevertheless, the opposition asserts that the majority of board members are closely aligned to the ruling party. There are more than 200 newspapers, some 50 TV stations, and 30 radio stations; as with other countries in the region, television serves as the primary source of information for the average Albanian. According to the OSCE office in Albania, some 60 percent of media advertising is paid for by budget-financed or state institutions. The government is known to grant state advertising to those media providing favorable coverage. Furthermore, private businesses are increasingly wary of advertising with antigovernment media groups lest they risk financial audits. Private broadcasters also suffer burdensome state levies, including licensing fees and other taxes. In July, the government blocked broadcasting by one of the largest networks in the country, ALSAT TV, for reportedly failing to pay taxes and other fees. The station asserts that the government acted for political reasons, but at year's end it was able to operate only sporadically. A decree prohibits senior civil servants from providing any official information to the media, although the prime minister privately revoked this decree just five days before the Constitutional Court was due to consider its legality. Journalists are paid poorly, which makes them susceptible to corruption. On several occasions, government officials have been linked to threats against journalists.