Freedom of the Press
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Press Freedom Score (0 = best, 100 = worst)
Legal Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Political Environment(0 = best, 40 = worst)
Economic Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
The legal system protects freedom of the press, and the government generally respects this right. There was a movement in 2005, involving both media organizations and members of the government, to amend defamation laws under which libel is punishable by up to two years in prison. In February, a bipartisan group of 23 members of Parliament introduced amendments to Albania's criminal and civil codes, but these did not pass before the July general elections. Still, there were several positive developments in the legal sphere. In January, a Tirana appeals court reversed the 2004 libel conviction of opposition MP and journalist Nikolle Lesi, whose articles in Koha Jone had implicated former Prime Minister Fatos Nano in corrupt activities. In October, Prime Minister Sali Berisha issued an order requiring that government officials use the right of reply rather than civil or criminal defamation suits against the media. Media owners continued to criticize the Parliament-appointed broadcast regulator, the seven-member National Council of Radio and Television (NCRT), alleging that the council was unable to perform its duties. The agency is perceived to be politically influenced and inefficient owing to a lack of funds. In March, a Tirana court reversed the NCRT's 2004 suspension of TV Shijak's license because of the council's failure to take preliminary measures before the suspension over copyright violations.
Independent media continued to be active and were generally able to criticize the government. However, coverage at most broadcast stations was one-sided and significantly politicized, a situation that deteriorated in the run-up to the July elections. The state-owned Albanian Radio and Television, which operates the national television and radio channels, focused most of its election coverage on the government. Nevertheless, in May the main opposition Democratic Party restored the accreditation of TV station News24, which was banned in 2004 from covering the party's activities. Physical intimidation continued in parts of the country. In May, two journalists and a cameraman from Korca were prohibited from filming the activities of the local police, and the chief of the Korca police physically assaulted one of the journalists. In July, the mayor of Korca, Robert Damo, beat up a journalist when she filmed Damo's debate with an election opponent that escalated into a heated argument. The relative of a senior socialist party official allegedly beat two journalists during the election rerun in the southern city of Gjirokaster in August. In December, unknown persons threw explosives into the Tirana editorial office of the highest-circulating daily, Shekulli. None of the 15 staff members working were injured.
There are 66 private television stations, 45 private radio stations, and approximately 200 publications in circulation. Much of the independent media was constrained owing to lack of finances. Publishers and media owners tend to dictate editorial policy based on political and economic interests, which, together with the employment insecurity journalists face, nurtures a culture of self-censorship. The internet is a relatively unimportant source of information as access is limited because of a weak telecommunications infrastructure outside major urban areas. The government does not control internet access but less than 3 percent of the population is able to gain access to the internet on a regular basis.