Indicators of Risks to Media Pluralism

Media Audience Concentration

Result: High Risk

This indicator aims to assess the concentration of audience and readership across media platforms based on audience share. Concentration is measured by using the nationwide biggest 4 owners in the market. Presented are the sums of audience shares based on audience data provided by Abacus Research and Telemetrix. 

Why?

Two research agencies are active in the Albanian media market: Abacus Research and Telemetrix.  Parts of the expert community are of the opinion that market research field is divided along the lines of two major media houses: Top Media and Klan Media. In order to be able to compare, MOM purchased data from both research agencies. Their data on Television viewership differs greatly as they employ different methodologies and household samples. Abacus research has 1080 household all across Albania including rural areas, whereas Telemetrix has around 300 households only in major cities across Albania. Those discrepancies (see below) in audience data along with explicit remarks on the unreliability of provided audience data made by the expert community as well as some of the media owners show the low level of trust in both research agencies.

TV outletAbacus (share%)Telemetrix (share%)
Top Channel16,159,06
TV Klan 13,4329,63
Vizion Plus 10,155,56
News 245,368,99
Ora News 4,711,91
ABC News 2,722,50
Report TV1,693,17
Top News 0,060,98
RTSH4,632,21
Scan TV0,240,14
Klan Plus0,601,88

For the TV MARKET, MOM has calculated audience concentration with both sets of data. According to the data provided by Abacus research the TV market has a medium concentration with four major owners reaching an audience of 48.93%. Data from Telemetrix however show a high concentration in Television market with four major owners reaching an audience of 58.60%. Given that the data market is evaluated as not reliable, fact-based media regulation and policy making is impossible – which in itself already presents a HIGH risk to media pluralism in TV.

Top 4 Abacus: TV Audience Concentration 48,93%Top 4 Telemetrix: TV Audience Concentration 58,60%
Frangaj Family: 16,75% (Klan TV, ABC News)Frangaj Family: 34,01% (Klan TV ABC News)
Hoxha Family: 16,21% (Top Channel, Top News)Hoxha Family: 10,04% (Top Channel, Top News)
Dulaku Family: 10,15% (Vizion Plus)Irfan Hysenbelliu: 8,99% (News 24)
Ndroqi Family: 5,82% (Ora News, Channel One)Dulaku Family: 5,56% (Vizion Plus)

RADIO MARKET: 63.96%

The audience data for Radio market was only available from Abacus research for 1-8, April 2017. 1000 completed interviews through a week-long diary method recording radio listenership and print readership among Albanians 12+ were conducted by Abacus Research.

The results of the audience calculations show that the risk of audience concentration within the Radio Market in Albania is HIGH with the four biggest players reaching an audience of at least 63.96%. The four biggest players of the radio market are:

 

Top 4 Radio Audience Concentration: 63,96%
Hoxha Family: 40,96% (Top Albania Radio, Top Gold Radio, My Music Radio)
RTSH, Public Broadcaster: 11,25% (Radio Tirana, Radio Tirana 2)
Arben Bylykbashi: 8,57% (Club FM)
Ndroqi Family: 3,18% (Ora News Radio)

PRINT MARKET: 43.29%

The audience data for Print market was provided by Abacus research for 1-8, April 2017. 1000 completed interviews through a week-long diary method recording radio listenership and print readership among Albanians 12+ were conducted by Abacus Research.

The results of the audience calculations show that the risk of audience concentration within the print market is MEDIUM, with the four biggest players reaching an audience of 43.29%. The print market has one big owner with the audience reach of 30.22% and the remaining three big owners are significantly smaller. Thus, the four biggest players in the print market are:

 

Top 4 Print Audience Concentration: 43,29% 
Irfan Hysenbelliu: 30,22% (Panorama, Gazeta Shqiptare, Panorama Sport, Psikologija)
Koço Kokëdhima: 6,63% (Shekulli)
Henri Çili: 4,64% (Mapo, Mapo Magazine, Madame Mapo)
Dabulla Brothers: 1,80% (Gazeta Dita)

INTERNET MARKET: No data

There is no audience data on online readership, therefore it is impossible to measure the online audience concentration. The lack of audience data is considered a HIGH risk to Media Pluralism. 

LOW MEDIUM HIGH 
Audience concentration in Television (horizontal) 

Percentage: 48.93% Abacus data; 58.60% Telemetrix data

Huge discrepancies in audience data indicates the need for more reliable data and thus results in HIGH risk to media audience concentration in Television market

If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share below 25%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share between 25% and 49%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share above 50%. 
Audience concentration in Radio (horizontal) 

Percentage: 63,96%

If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share below 25%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share between 25% and 49%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share above 50%. 
Readership concentration in newspapers (horizontal) 

Percentage: 43,29%

If within one country the major 4 Owners have a readership share below 25%. If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a readership share between 25% and 49%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a readership share above 50%. 
Audience concentration in Internet (horizontal) 

Percentage: Audience share not available.

If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share below 25%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share between 25% and 49%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share above 50%. 

 

SOURCES:

Abacus Report on TV and Radio Audience 2017
Abacus Report on Print Readership 2017
Telemetrix Report on TV Audience 2017

Media Market Concentration

Result: High Risk

This indicator aims to assess the horizontal ownership concentration based on market share which illustrates the economic power of companies/ groups. Concentration is measured for each media sector by adding the market shares of the major owners in the sector. 

Why? 

Market concentration within the TV MARKET is high: 89.6% (Free-to-air commercial market) or 93% (the entire market including the digital network providers and the public broadcaster) of the market belong to only 4 owners. 

The two biggest owners of the market control more than two thirds of the market with the 71.7% of the market share.

Albanian television market can be divided in three main categories: a) Pay Per view service provided by Digit-Alb, Tring and other cable televisions and Public Radio Television. b) free on-air television supported mainly through advertising. c) local level television with little financial or public weight. MOM separated pay-per-view from free-on-air because pay-per-view exist mostly as entertainment service where "news" is not a priority. MOM decided to include Public Radio Television in this category since most of its revenues stem from the state budget and from a special tax on owning a TV set that is paid by families and collected through the electricity bill.

The Free-to-Air Commercial market includes eight companies operating major television channels that have weight in the market. MOM have calculated, based on the balance sheets of the television companies for 2016, that the aggregate revenues of these eight players is 4.1 billion Lek (36 million USD). All are based in Tirana. The rest of televisions, several dozen stations across the country have very little weight. Overall, these eight televisions, represent more than 90% of the television market. A full list of the channels can be found here

Television sector has the lion share in the overall media market due to both popularity of the pay-per-view and weakening of print media. The free-on-air media market has revenues of 4.1 billion Lek as for 2016, compared to revenues of just 592 million Lek of total revenues of 12 print media company, which include both revenues from ads and from newspaper or magazine sales. The advertising market seems also concentrated with few telecommunication companies providing the most of the ad revenues for the media.

The four biggest owners in the free-to-air commercial market are: Hoxha Family with Top Media, Frangaj Family with Klan Media, Dulaku Family with Media Vizion and Hysenbelliu with News 24.

Free-on-Air TV Market Concentration
Hoxha Family has 39% of the market (Top Channel)
Frangaj Family has 32.7% of the market (Klan TV and ABC News)
Dulaku Family has 11.5% of the market (Media Vizion)
Irfan Hysenbelliu has 6.4% of the market (News 24)  

This shows that two families Hoxha and Frangaj alone have over 70% of the Television market, while all four owners combined have a market share of 89,6%. 

TV market including pay-per-view: MOM have also calculated the Television market including the pay-per-view Digital Broadcasting Networks and the Public Broadcaster, which also provides digital broadcasting platform for other local Television companies. In addition to eight free-to-air commercial companies in this sample we have DigitAlb, Tring and RTSH resulting in a market of 13.1 billion Lek (116 million USD). The four biggest players in this market are: 

Pay-per-view TV Market Concentration
Hoxha Family has the market share of 55% (Top Channel, DigitAlb)
Public Broadcaster has the market share of 18% (RTSH)
Dullaku Family has the market share of 11% (Vizion Plus, Tring)
Frangaj Family has the market share of 10% (Klan TV, ABC News)

All four control the 94% of the market, with Hoxha family alone controlling 55% of the market. This shows that the Television market in Albania, including or excluding the digital pay-per-view TV, is extremely concentrated.

RADIO MARKET: No data 

MOM was unable to calculate market share of Radio companies because the data was inconsistently available. Most of the radio stations in the sample did not have balance sheets separate for the outlet because they were part of bigger radio and television companies. The horizontal ownership concentration for the radio market therefore was not computable.  

PRINT MARKET: 86.5%

The MOM sample of 12 Print outlets includes all the national informative print outlets in Albanian small print market. The print market in Albania is rather small, 592 million Lek (5.2 million USD) with one big owner that runs two newspapers and the remaining owners have rather modest circulation and revenues. The four biggest players in the print market are: 

Print Market Concentration 
Irfan Hysenbelliu has 53.9% of the market (Panorama, Gazeta Shqiptare)
Koço Kokëdhima has 16% of the market (Shekulli)
Leka Brothers have 10% of the market (Monitor)
Dabulla Brothers have 6.6% of the market (Gazeta Dita)

The market leader, Irfan Hysenbelliu alone controls half of the market with 53.9% of market share. Whereas all four owners have a market share of 86.5%

ONLINE MARKET: no data

MOM was unable to calculate market share of Online Media companies because the data was inconsistently available. Most of the Online Media are a part of existing mainstream media, for example print and / or television and did not have balance sheets separate for their online outlets. The horizontal ownership concentration for the online market therefore was not computable. 

Score: 3

LOW (1)MEDIUM (2)HIGH (3)
Media market concentration in television (horizontal): This indicator aims to assess the concentration of ownership within the TV media sector. 
Percentage: 89,6% to 94%
If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share below 25%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share between 25% and 49%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share above 50%. 
Media market concentration in radio (horizontal) : This indicator aims to assess the concentration of ownership within the Radio media sector.    
Percentage: not assessed    
If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share below 25%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share between 25% and 49%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share above 50%. 
Media market concentration in newspapers (horizontal) : This indicator aims to assess the concentration of ownership within the print  sector.
Percentage: 86,5%    
If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share below 25%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share between 25% and 49%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share above 50%. 
Media market concentration in Internet Content Providers 
Percentage: not assessed    
If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share below 25%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share between 25% and 49%.  If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share above 50%.  

Metadata

Some of the televisions listed in AMA database don't appear in the National Business Registry. For example, TV Klaudiana is not there. Some of them, have not provided financial statements and some are more like mixed services, wedding filming and TV in the same time. Some, like Channel One, for instance declared 6.9 million Lek in revenues, (53,900 USD), so, it is not relevant. TV Kombi, a channel based in Fier, report revenues of 3.3 million Lek, (about 25,000 USD). For these reasons, we do not believe that the other channels have meaningful weight in the market in terms of official revenues. 

SOURCES:

Television Market Share calculations, MOM Albania, 2018
Print Market Share Calculations, MOM Albania 2018

Regulatory Safeguards: Media Ownership Concentration

Result: High Risk

This indicator assesses the existence and effective implementation of regulatory safeguards (sector-specific and/or competition law) against a high horizontal concentration ownership and/or control in the different media. 

Why?

  • Neither the Albanian Constitution nor the Albanian Civil Code contain any provisions regarding media ownership concentration. The main piece of legislation laying down preventive rules on media concentration and monopolization is Law No. 97/2013, "On audio-visual media. This law contains provisions aimed at limiting the shares of a shareholder or his/her family members (up to the second degree) in a second or third media companies, while it also introduces restrictions on the volume of advertising that a media company can broadcast. Another piece of legislation laying down rules for regulating monopolies is the Law 9121/2003 "On the protection of competition". This law sets out general rules for all types of businesses. 
  • Only those audio-visual media broadcasting on either analogue or digital frequencies fall within the scope of the law. There is no equivalent law / regulation for print media, online, audio and cable media, or satellite broadcasting. Press and online media are not subject to any restrictions.
  • The audio-visual media law does not contain definitions for the terms of media monopolization and concentration. The only concepts that the law introduces are those of the limitation of the owner’s shares / voting rights in respect of a second media company. Regarding audio-visual media, restrictions are imposed on the percentage of the total capital (20%) in a second company holding a national license, while for analogue audio broadcasting media, the maximum amount of participation in a third media with a national license is limited to 10% of that media company’s capital. The audio-visual media law also regulates situations of conflict of interests arising in cases where two or more shareholders of a media company are family members up to the second degree. In such cases, the law will allow only one of the shareholders to hold shares in that company. 
  • The audio-visual media law also provides for a restriction of a commercial nature, which concerns the prohibition of occupying a share of more than 30% of the advertising market by a company that holds a national audio or audio-visual broadcasting license. However, this is not easily applied in practice, as the law does not specify how to measure the advertising share, whether this percentage refers to the value of the advertisements or to the advertising airtime. Also, it is not clear how the lengthy teleshopping advertisements (infomercials) are measured, making it impossible for the law to meet its objective which is to limit the level of advertising market share.
  • Albanian legislation contains no definition of other concepts related to media concentration such as audience share, circulation, overall revenue from sources other than advertising such as sponsorships, projects, grants, etc. Sponsorship revenues are not included in the prohibitive criteria in the same way as the restrictions set out regarding advertising. This in turn gives rise to the possibility that revenue from advertising can be classified as sponsorship, thereby making it difficult to monitor and regulate the advertising market. There is also no restriction on the participation of the same natural or legal person in other (not media related) companies.
  • Article 62 Law no. 97/2013 lays down some mechanisms to avoid media concentration; nevertheless, the article is applicable only to audio-visual media. In the area of audio-visual broadcasting, the competent monitoring body is the Audio-visual Media Authority (AMA) whose role is to oversee the implementation of provisions aimed at preventing media ownership concentration. Some of the main functions of AMA are: issuing and revoking of licenses and / or authorizations; ensuring fair competition; cooperating with other institutions for the fulfilment of legal objectives, such as the Competition Authority, the Consumer Protection Commission; monitoring of programs transmitted by the Audio-visual Media Service Providers. AMA also oversees the implementation of the law on media by entities operating in the audio-visual field and in case of violation, takes administrative measures and imposes sanctions. However, the law does not provide for mechanisms aimed at preventing situations that endanger media pluralism or concentration of ownership at unacceptable levels.

Regulatory Safeguard Score:
7.5 out of 20 = High Risk (37,5%).
1 = media-specific regulation/ authority
0.5 = competition-related regulation/ authority

Table summarizes TV/Radio/Online/Print - Max. score: 4 per sector.    DescriptionYesNoNAMD
Does the media legislation contain specific thresholds or limits, based on objective criteria (e.g. number of licenses, audience share, circulation, distribution of share capital or voting rights, turnover/revenue) to prevent a high level of horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in this sector?     This question aims to assess the existence of regulatory safeguards (sector-specific) against a high horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in the TELEVISION/RADIO sector.    

 1

  

 

Is there an administrative authority or judicial body actively monitoring compliance with the thresholds in the print sector and/or hearing complaints? (e.g. media and/or competition authority)?     This variable aims to assess if the law/regulation provides a due monitoring and sanctioning system for the regulation on audiovisual media concentration.    

 2

  
Does the law grant this body sanctioning/enforcement powers in order to impose proportionate remedies (behavioural and/or structural) in case of non-respect of the thresholds?    

The variable aims at assessing if the law is providing a due system of sanctions to sector-specific regulation, such as:

       Refusal of additional licences;

-        Blocking of a merger or acquisition;

-        Obligation to allocate windows for third party programming;

-        Obligation to give up licences / activities in other media sectors;

-        divestiture.  

 2

  

  

Are these sanctioning/enforcement powers effectively used?     This indicator aims to assess the effective implementation of sector-specific remedies against a high horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in the television media.    

1

Total 

6 of 16

 

Media MergersDescriptionYesNoNAMD
Can a high level of horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in the media sector be prevented via merger control/competition rules that take into account the specificities of the media sector?    

This question aims to access the existence of regulatory safeguards (sector specific and/or competition law) against a high horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in the media sector through merging operations: 

- By containing media-specific provision that impose stricter thresholds than in other sectors;

- The mandatory intervention of a media authority in merger and acquisition cases (for instance, the obligation for the competition authority to ask the advice of the media authority);

- The possibility to overrule the approval of a concentration by the communication authority for reasons of media pluralism (or public interest in general), that - even tough they do not contain media-specific provisions - do not exclude the media sector from their scope of application. 

0.5  
Is there an administrative authority or judicial body actively monitoring compliance with rules on mergers and/or hearing complaints? (e.g. media and/or competition authority)?     This variable aims to assess if the law/regulation provides a due monitoring and sanctioning system.       0.5
Does the law grant this body sanctioning/enforcement powers in order to impose proportionate remedies (behavioural and/or structural) in case of non-respect of the thresholds?    

The variable aims of assessing if the law is providing a due system of sanctions to sector-specific regulation, such as: 

-        Refusal of additional licences;

-        Blocking of a merger or acquisition;

-        Obligation to allocate windows for third party programming;

-        Obligation to give up licences / activities in other media sectors;

-        divestiture.  

    0.5  
Are these sanctioning/enforcement powers effectively used?     This indicator aims to assess the effective implementation of sector-specific remedies against a high horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in the television media.    High Risk (0)

Total 1.5 of 4

 Sources:

Dorian Matlija (2018) Legal Assessement, Media Ownership Monitor Albania

Cross-media Ownership Concentration

Result: High Risk

This indicator aims to assess the concentration of ownership across the different sectors – TV, print, audio, and any other relevant media – of the media industry. Cross-media concentration is measured by adding up the market shares of the Top 8 media companies. In this case, market shares were not always unavailable. Cross-media ownership was instead calculated on the basis of weighted audience shares for the print, radio and TV market. Audience shares for online outlets were not available. The results are not an indicator for economic strength in different media sectors but rather for the potential influence on public opinion when considering all media types.

Why?

Two research agencies are active in the Albanian media market: Abacus Research and Telemetrix.  Parts of the expert community are of the opinion that market research field is divided along the lines of two major media houses: Top Media and Klan Media. In order to be able to compare, MOM purchased data from both research agencies.

Their data on Television viewership differs greatly as they employ different methodologies and household samples. Abacus research has 1080 household all across Albania including rural areas, whereas Telemetrix has around 300 households only in major cities across Albania. Those discrepancies (see below) in audience data along with explicit remarks on the unreliability of provided audience data made by the expert community as well as some of the media owners show the low level of trust in both research agencies

TV outletAbacus (share%)Telemetrix (share%)
Top Channel16,159,06
TV Klan 13,4329,63
Vizion Plus 10,155,56
News 245,368,99
Ora News 4,711,91
ABC News 2,722,50
Report TV1,693,17
Top News 0,060,98
RTSH4,632,21
Scan TV0,240,14
Klan Plus0,601,88

The audience data for Radio and Print markets were only available from Abacus research for 1-8, April 2017. 1000 completed interviews through a week-long diary method recording radio listenership and print readership among Albanians 12+ were conducted by Abacus Research. Audience shares for print, radio and television were weighted against consumption habits. Consumption data was also provided by Abacus Research for 2017, showing that TV is the most used news source (75,6%), followed by online (62,2%), radio (27,8%) and print (25,01%)

Even though online media seems relevant in terms of consumption – even more so than print and radio – online media outlets could not be included in the cross-media concentration calculation. This is due to the reason that data on audience reach for online outlets is either scarce or considered as highly unreliable: e.g.  Alexa’s sample is contested by the expert community. It also included mostly media outlets operating outside of Albania, in neighboring Albanian speaking countries, such as Kosovo or Macedonia. Similarweb.com, another market research agency, doesn’t have data on the Albanian market.

But independently of audience data, the fact is: internet media seems to be growing in importance. All of the selected media owners have online editions. Therefore, the data provided below might even be an underestimation of the real audience reach and potential influence on public opinion these owners might have.

MOM have calculated cross-media ownership concentration based on audience data provided by Telemetrix and Abacus Research. Both sets of data show a high risk to cross-media audience concentration. In Albania the 8 major owners (TOP8) reach 72.51% of the audience according to data provided by Abacus. Data provided by Telemetrix shows that the TOP 8 media owners reach an audience of 80,1% across different media sectors. 

According to Telemetrix data the TOP4 within the selection are Frangaj Family, Hoxha Family, Irfan Hysenbelliu and Ndroqi Family which altogether reach an audience of 63,88%.

OwnerTVRadioPrintSum of weighted audience shares
Frangaj FamilyKlanTV, ABC NewsKlan Radio25,05%
Hoxha FamilyTop Channel, Top NewsTop Albania Radio, Top Gold Radio, My Music Radio18,97%
Irfan Hysenbelliu
News 24Radio Shqiptare RashPanorama, Panorama Sport, Gazeta Shqiptare, Psikologija15%
Ndroqi FamilyOra News, Channel OneOra News Radio4,86%
RTSHTVSHRadio Tirana, Radio Tirana 24,8%
Bollino & MallteziReport TVShqiptarja.com4,72%
Dulaku FamilyVizion Plus4,2%
Koço KokëdhimaTV BallkanRadio +2Shekulli2,5%
TOTAL:80,1%

Abacus data suggests that the Hoxha Family, Frangaj Family, Irfan Hysenbelliu and Dulaku family are theTOP4 within the selected strongest 8. These four reach an audience of 54,51% across media platforms.

OwnerTVRadioPrintSum of weighted audience shares
Hoxha FamilyTop Channel, Top NewsTop Albania Radio, Top Gold Radio, My Music Radio23,63%
Frangaj FamilyKlan TV, ABC NewsRadio Klan12,96%
Irfan HysenbelliuNews 24Radio Shqiptare RashPanorama, Panorama Sport, Gazeta Shqiptare, Psikologija10,25%
Dulaku FamilyVizion Plus7,67%
RTSHTVSHRadio Tirana 1, Radio Tirana 26,63%
Ndroqi FamilyOra News, One ChannelOra News Radio5,27%
Bollino & MallteziReport TVShqiptarja.com3,6%
Koço KokëdhimaTV BallkanRadio +2Shekulli2,5%
TOTAL:72,51%

Score: 3

LOW (1)MEDIUM (2)HIGH (3)

Percentage TOP 8: Abacus: 72,51%, Telemetrix 80,10%

If within one country the major 8 owners (Top8) have a market share below 50% across the different media sectors.  If within one country the major 8 owners (Top8) have an audience share between 50% and 69% across the different media sectors. If within one country the major 8 owners (Top8) have a market share above 70% across the different media sectors.

Abacus Report on TV and Radio Audiences 2017
Telemetrix TV Audience 2017
Abacus Print Readership 2017
Cross-Media Ownership Computation, MOM Albania 2018 Detailed computation of TOP 8 Media owners cross-media audience concentration

Regulatory Safeguards: Cross-media Ownership Concentration

Result: High Risk

This indicator aims to assess the existence and effective implementation of regulatory safeguards (sector-specific and/or competition law) against a high degree of cross-ownership between media types (press, TV, radio, internet). Given the diversity of thresholds or limits that exist among different countries with regard to ownership and/or control, 'high' should be assessed according to the standards of your country and in the light of the thresholds or limits imposed by domestic laws.

Why?

  • There are no provisions in the Albanian laws to prevent high degree of cross-ownership between the different media. The audio-visual media law does not contain definitions for the terms of media monopolization and concentration. The only concepts that the law introduces are those of the limitation of the owner’s shares / voting rights in respect of a second media company. Regarding audio-visual media, restrictions are imposed on the percentage of the total capital (20%) in a second company holding a national license, while for analogue audio broadcasting media, the maximum amount of participation in a third media with a national license is limited to 10% of that media company’s capital. The audio-visual media law also regulates situations of conflict of interests arising in cases where two or more shareholders of a media company are family members up to the second degree. In such cases, the law will allow only one of the shareholders to hold shares in that company.
  • Albanian legislation does not contain any specific thresholds based on objective criteria, such a number of licenses, audience share, circulation, overall revenue from sources other than advertising such as sponsorships, projects, grants, etc., to prevent cross-media ownership concentration.
  • In the area of audio-visual broadcasting, the competent monitoring body is the Audio-visual Media Authority (AMA) whose role is to oversee the implementation of provisions aimed at preventing media ownership concentration. However, the law does not provide for mechanisms aimed at preventing situations that endanger media pluralism or concentration of ownership at unacceptable levels.


Regulatory Safeguard Score:
0 out of 8 – High Risk (Regulation: 0%)

CROSS-MEDIA OWNERSHIPDescriptionYesNoNAMD
Does the media legislation contain specific thresholds, based on objective criteria, such as number of licences, audience share, circulation, distribution of share capital or voting rights, turnover/revenue, to prevent a high degree of cross-ownership between the different media?     This indicator aims to assess the existence of regulatory safeguards (sector-specific and/or competition law) against a high degree of cross-ownership in different media sectors.      X
Is there an administrative authority or judicial body actively monitoring compliance with these thresholds and/or hearing complaints? (e.g. media authority=1, competition authority=0,5))     This variable aims to assess if the law/regulation provides a due monitoring and sanctioning system for the regulation on audiovisual media concentration.      X
Does the law grant body sanctioning/enforcement powers in order to impose proportionate remedies (behavioural and/or structural) in case of non-respect of the thresholds?    

The variable aims at assessing if the law is providing a due system of sanctions to sector-specific regulation, such as:

- Refusal of additional licences;

- Blocking of a merger or acquisition;

- Obligation to allocate windows for third party programming;

- Obligation to give up licences/activities in other media sectors

- divestiture.

  X
Are these sanctioning/enforcement powers effectively used?    

the relevant authority never uses its sanctioning powers

The question aims at assessing the effectiveness of the remedies provided by the regulation.    
  X
Can a high degree of cross-ownership between different media be prevented via merger control/competition rules that take into account the specificities of the media sector?    

For instance, cross-ownership can be prevented by comptetion law:

- by the mandatory intervention of a media authority in M&A cases (for instance, the obligation for the competition authority to ask the advice of the media authority);

- by the possibility to overrule the approval of a concentration by the competition authority for reasons of media pluralism (or Public interest in general);
 Even though the law does not contain media-specific provisions - it does not exclude the media sector from its scope of application
  X
Is there an administrative authority or judicial body actively monitoring compliance with these rules and/or hearing complaints? (e.g. media and/or competition authority)     This variable aims to assess if the law/regulation provides a due monitoring and sanctioning system for the regulation against a high degree of cross-ownership in different media sectors via merger control/competition rules       X
Does the law grant body sanctioning/enforcement powers in order to impose proportionate remedies (behavioural and/or structural) in case of non-respect of the thresholds?    

Examples sanctioning/enforcement powers and remedies:

- blocking of a merger or acquisition;

- obligation to allocate windows for third party programming;

- must carryobligation to give up licences/activities in other media sectors;

- divestiture. 

  X
Are these sanctioning/enforcement powers effectively used?     The question aims at assessing the effectiveness of the remedies of the regulation.      No

Total (Mean of L-e und L-I sub-indicators)         0 of 8

Dorian Matlija (2018) Media Ownership Monitor Albania - Legal Assessment

Ownership Transparency

Result: MEDIUM Risk

This indicator assesses the transparency of data about the political affiliations of media owners as ownership transparency is a crucial precondition to enforce media pluralism.  

Why?

Ownership structures and financial reports of all registered businesses are available at The Albanian National Business Registry, or Qendra Kombetare e Biznesit. The online register is accessible to public and allows searches by company or owner. In cases when the ownership structure was available in the public register we have coded the company’s transparency rank as Data Publicly available. There is no media specific database in Albania, a list of audio-visual media can be found on the website of the regulator AMA, but that list doesn’t provide ownership or financial data. There is no register for print or online media. Most of the media are registered as businesses, therefore the data related to their founding, shareholders, board members were available in The Albanian Business Register. In addition, MOM invited media owners to exercise transparency by responding to Information requests that were sent out in December 2017. 10 out of 25 companies provided detailed replies to our information requests.

  • Active transparency means company/channel informs proactively and comprehensively about its ownership, data is constantly updated and easily verifiable. MOM investigated a sample of 45 outlets, 25 companies and 25 individual owners. 9 outlets, 5 companies and 4 owners were ranked as Actively Transparent, i.e. 18,95% of the entire sample.  
  • Passive Transparency means that upon request, ownership data is easily available from the company/from a channel.  14 outlets, 4 companies and 1 owner were ranked as Passively Transparent, i.e. 21,05% of the entire sample. Most of these companies, outlets and owners are related to the media that provided detailed replies to MOM information requests.
  • Data publicly available means ownership data is easily available from other sources, e. g. public registries etc. 19 outlets, 14 companies and 20 owners were ranked as Data Publicly Available, i.e. even if the websites didn’t inform them public of the owners those could be found in the public records such as the Albanian Business Register, this transparency ranking was used in 55,79% of cases.   
  • Data unavailable means ownership data is not publicly available; company/channel denies the release of information or does not respond, no public record exists. 3,16% of the entire sample was ranked as Data unavailable. In 2 outlets and 1 company data was unavailable, i.e. ultimate owners remain hidden. These were related to Radio and Online outlets, Radio IN and Syri.net. Media Group IN provided no information on final shareholders, the company that owns the businesses in Albania is registered in Cyprus. Syri.net has no public record of the company that runs it or the final owner that sponsors the media.
  • MOM Information requests were sent out by registered mail and email on 27 December 2017, reminder emails were sent out two weeks later in January 2018. 10 companies have provided detailed replies to our requests in written form or by email. These companies are: Top Channel and DigitAlb, Scan TV, Mapo, Panorama, Gazeta Tema, Koha Jone, Focus Group Media, Ora News and Standard.
  • 3 FOI requests were sent to the Public Broadcaster (RTSH), Public Treasury and AKEP. Public Treasury did not provide the information requested on the public spending for media (advertising) referencing that there is no code for advertising in the booking system rendering any tracking of funds impossible.
LOW (1)MEDIUM (2)High (3)

How would you assess the transparency and accessibility of data about the media ownership?

Active Transparency – 18.95%
Passive Transparency – 21.05%
Data Publicly Available – 55.79%
Data Unavailable – 3.16%
Active Disguise - 0%

Data on media owners as well as their political affiliations is publicly available and transparent.

(Active Transparency)

Code if that applies to > 75% of the sample

Data of media owners and their political affiliations are disclosed based on investigations of journalists and media activists or upon request.

(Passive Transparency, Publicly Available)

Code if that applies > 50% of the sample. 

Data on political affiliations of media owners are not easily accessible by the public and investigative journalists of activists are not successful in disclosing these data.

(Data Unavailable, Active Disguise)

Code if data is available for < 50% of the sample 

 

 

Regulatory Safeguards: Ownership Transparency

Result: Medium Risk

This indicator aims to assess the existence and effective implementation of transparency and disclosure provisions with regard to media ownership and/or control.

Why?

  • The national law does not contain any transparency and disclosure provision obliging media companies to publish their ownership structures on their websites. But indirectly their records/documents are accessible to the public, through the National Business Centre. Since all media companies (just like any other businesses in the country) must be registered with the National Business Centre and specify the names of their shareholders, ownership data is available online for most media outlets, including print media. There is no clear obligation to ensure that the public knows which legal or natural person effectively owns or controls the media company.
  • Ownership data for online media is more difficult to obtain, as such media are not required to register either as a business or as a media outlet. On the other hand, electronic media that use audio-visual broadcasts in their activities have to register with both the National Business Centre and the Audio-visual Media Authority. The Regulatory Authority does not have an online register containing proprietary data for media bodies, but such information can be obtained by means of freedom of information requests.
  • Like any other business, all media outlets should submit annual financial reports to the tax authorities; these reports are confidential. In addition, the media companies’ financial statements are also submitted to the National Business Centre, which makes them available on its public database. Online media with audio-visual broadcasting, along with Audio-visual media, are also obliged to submit financial reports to the Regulatory Authority, AMA. The financial statements have to be submitted each year to the tax authorities and the National Business Centre. The Albanian Public Radio Television (the Albanian public broadcaster) is also under an obligation to submit annual financial report to the AMA and the Parliament. Furthermore, the AMA has the authority to inspect the financial reports of the licensed entities; its findings should be made available online.  Upon its initiative, AMA might request financial and economic information from audio and audio-visual media companies; exercising this competence falls entirely within its discretion.
  • Information concerning shareholders is easy to understand for the general public, while financial disclosure information is accessible and understandable only to experts.

Regulatory Safeguard Score:
10,5 out of 20 – Medium Risk (52,5%)

Transparency Provisions (summarized for TV, Radio, Press, Online - max. score 5 per sector)DescriptionYesNoNAMD
Does national (media, company, tax...) law contain transparency and disclosure provisions obliging media companies to publish their ownership structures on their website or in records/documents that are accessible to the public?     The aim of the question is to check regulatory safeguard for transparency towards the citizens, the users and the public in general.   X
Does national (media, company, tax...) law contain transparency and disclosure provisions obliging media companies to report (changes in) ownership structures to public authorities (such as the media authority)?     The aim of the question is to check regulatory safeguard for accountability and transparency towards public authorities.      X
Is there an obligation by national law to disclose relevant information after every change in ownership structure?     This question aims at assessing if the law provides rules on the public availability of accurate and up-to-date data on media ownership. This is a condition for an effective transparency.      X
Are there any sanctions in case of non-respect of disclosure obligations?     This question aims at assessing if the law on media ownership transparency can be enforced through the application of sanctions.      X
Do the obligations ensure that the public knows which legal or natural person effectively owns or controls the media company?     This question aim at assessing the effectiveness of the laws that deal with media ownership transparency and if they succeed in disclosing the real owners of the media outlets.    
Medium:
some owners are still unknown
(=0,5)
Total10,5 out of 20 

Sources:

Dorian Matlija (2018). Media Ownership Monitor Albania - Legal Assesment

(Political) Control Over Media Outlets and Distribution Networks

Result: HIGH Risk

This indicator assesses the risk of political affiliations and control over media and distribution networks. It also assesses the level of discrimination by politically affiliated media distribution networks. Discriminatory actions would for example include unfavorable pricing and posing barriers to media accessing the distribution channel. Political Affiliations means that the media outlet or company belongs to a party, a partisan group, a party leader or a clearly partisan person. Quite often political control is not direct control, through direct ownership but through intermediaries, such as family members. We have also included cases of intransparent allocation of state funds or concessions as examples of political affiliations. 

Why?

The Albanian media market is relatively small. Conflicts of interests in such an environment are a commonplace. The Albanian laws prohibit individuals holding public office to benefit from public funds through the businesses they own. Yet proxy owners, often close or extended family members, are used to maintain control/influence over media and other businesses. 11 media owners out of 25 investigated are found to have political affiliations. Political forces both use and abuse the media to manipulate public coverage and to discredit the media. For businesses to remain afloat or to sustain some profitability (by procuring concessions, licenses, state subsidies etc.) in the given environment, owners are encouraged to entertain close ties with the political powers, which for media might mean compromising on unbiased coverage of socio-economic and political affairs. The only media regulator, AMA, which regulates the audio-visual market, is largely seen as politicized and reluctant to perform its duties.

Political affiliations of media owners:

  • Hoxha Family owns the biggest media house in the country. Top Media Group and the digital broadcasting platform DigitAlb are by far the biggest players in the media market (55% market share). Top Channel received state funding. In March 2017, the government initiated a draft law that would compensate media outlets for the analogue switch off with 5 million euro. The law was approved in the parliament on March 30th 2017. The Top Media group was the main beneficiary of this subsidy though their national television station Top Channel and the distribution network DigitAlb. Furthermore, the newly appointed Director General of Top Channel, Ben Blushi is a retired politician, who served in the cabinet of Socialist Prime Minister, Fatos Nano in 2000, then was a prefect of Korça and the Minister of Education and Local Governance. Blushi first supported Edi Rama in 2005 and later became one his biggest opponents. He formed his own political movement/party called Libra and ran for parliamentary elections last summer, June 2017 but failed to enter the parliament.  
  • Frangaj Family – Aleksander Frangaj and his wife Alba Gina own TV Klan, another significant media player in the country. The owner is perceived as pro-governmental – no matter who holds the reign of power. In 2012-2013 his outlets were the main beneficiaries of government funded advertising campaigns. Frangaj is also the beneficiary of the fund of 5 million euros made available by the Rama government in March 2017, as a subsidy for the digital switch. Aleksander Frangaj has previously made public declarations of support to Sali Berisha, the former Prime Minister.
  • Carlo Bollino – calls himself a friend of Edi Rama, a stance that he claims is not reflected in the reporting of his media outlets. He had a common media business with Koço Kokëdhima, the former MP when launching TV Ballkan, which was not a successful enterprise (the outlet is now defunct); BunkArt1 and BunkArt2 – can be seen as concession – an NGO closely associated with Bollino received state funds to turn communist-era bunkers into museums. Bollino is a curator of the project.
  • Agim Çiraku – is currently a holder of public office, a Member of the city council of Durrës for the Socialist Party.
  • Irfan Hysenbelliu – both CEOs of Panorama Group and Focus Media News are members or former members of LSI (the Socialist Movement for Integration), the social-democratic party of Albania, founded by former Prime Minister, Ilir Meta.
  • Sofokli Duni, owner of the daily newspaper Standard, in 2014 ran for the National Council of Democratic party membership, not elected. Standard was founded, among others, by the wife of Fatbarth Kadilli, the former MP and the head of anti-corruption unit of the cabinet of Sali Berisha.
  • Nikoll Lesi – served as a Member of the Parliament three times and as a Deputy Minister of Culture in the ‘Berisha 2’ government from 2009 to 2013.
  • Koço Kokëdhima – former MP and a party leader of "Zgjidhja" (Solution), a political movement/party he founded in 2017.
  • Besnik and Alban Dabulla – are children of Arta Dade, former member of the Parliament, former Foreign Minister and former Minister of Culture. 
  • Henri Çili – has expressed public support to Sali Berisha and Edi Rama, received university license from Berisha government.  He is the founder and the owner of the European University of Tirana, a private higher education institution that was licensed from former Prime Minister Sali Berisha. 
  • Syri.net – ownership data unavailable; it is not a registered legal entity and provides no information on its ownership in the impressum of the website. Political affiliations of hidden owners are unknown and thus pose a risk of political control.
  • IN-Media Group – ownership data unavailable, IN Media Group is a subsidiary of a Cyprus based company, Miesseco – the final owners and their political affiliations are intransparent.
  • RTSH, The Albanian Radio Television – the public broadcaster’s supervisory Council is elected by the parliament and represents a compromised body of individuals close to both political parties. In addition, Thoma Gëllçi – General Director of RTSH, affiliated with the ruling party, held a series of senior positions in the public administration, including as chief of the communication department of Prime Minister Ilir Meta (2001), now Albania’s president. Later, Thoma Gëllçi was the media adviser for Prime Minister Fatos Nano, which came in office after Meta.   
LOW (1) MEDIUM (2) HIGH (3)
POLITICISATION OF MEDIA OUTLETS    

The audience reach (TV/radio/print) of the politically affiliated media owners:

  • Abacus: 65,18%
  • Telemetrix: 75,86%
The media having <30% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation.     The media having <50% - >30% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation.  The media having >50% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation.    

Political control over media distribution networks

The overall level of (political) control over media outlets and distribution networks was assessed as a medium risk to media pluralism. A leading distribution network is defined as a network covering more than 15% of the national market.

Result: Medium

Why?

Print Distribution Networks – There is no major distribution network in print. Print media are partly distributed through the Albanian post office which is a public institution and is considered rather affordable. Yet print media have a very low subscriptions rates, 300 clients nationally. There are no major chains of kiosks, most of the individual vendors being focused in the capital, Tirana

Radio Distribution Networks – Licenses are allocated by AMA, the Audio-visual Media Authority. Since radio is not a major source of information and is rather a platform for music and entertaining talk-shows there is no political control/interference observed in license distribution.  

Television Distribution Networks – currently 4 operators provide digital platforms/hosting – DigitAlb (3 frequencies: incl. 1 from ADTN and 1 from Top Channel), RTSH (2 frequencies), Tring (1 frequency), Klan TV (1 frequency). The market is concentrated, DigitAlb has 3 frequencies – more hosting space than all other operators in the market. There have been complains from local broadcasters that hosting fees are high. AMA distributed frequencies in 2017 and was seen as politically non-independent. The AMA board is elected by the Parliament, the director of AMA was accused of bias towards Top Media for having worked for them in the past. The opposition claims that AMA is controlled by market interests. Digitalisation process was largely seen as not a fair process and resulted in high concentration. Cable networks – the market is primarily comprised of small businesses – unstable market, no major network providers; There are about 100 companies licensed by AMA, some of these cable networks retransmit Tring package, but Tring has only 10% of the pay-per-view market. Therefore, no clear political control can be observed in the cable distribution networks.

Internet Distribution Networks – There are myriads of internet service providers in Albania. The biggest being Albtelekom, Digicom, Telekom, Vodafone, Eagle Mobile – most of these are telecommunication companies. Internet subscription is cheap and accessible, no political control is observed.  

LOW (1)MEDIUM (2)HIGH (3)
How would you assess the conduct of the leading distribution networks for print media? 
Leading distribution networks are not politically affiliated or do not take discriminatory actions.     At least one of the leading distribution networks is politically affiliated or takes occasional discriminatory actions.     All of the leading distribution networks are politically affiliated and has a record of repeated discriminatory actions.    
How would you assess the conduct of the leading radio distribution networks? 
Leading distribution networks are not politically affiliated or do not take discriminatory actions.     At least one of the leading distribution networks is politically affiliated or takes occasional discriminatory actions.     All of the leading distribution networks are politically affiliated and has a record of repeated discriminatory actions.    
How would you assess the conduct of the leading television distribution networks? 
Leading distribution, are not politically affiliated or do not take discriminatory actions. At least one of the leading distribution networks is politically affiliated or takes occasional discriminatory actions.  All of the leading distribution networks are politically affiliated and has a record of repeated discriminatory actions. 
How would you assess the conduct of the leading Internet distribution networks? 
Leading distribution networks are not politically affiliated or do not take discriminatory actions. At least one of the leading distribution networks is politically affiliated or takes occasional discriminatory actions.  All of the leading distribution networks are politically affiliated and has a record of repeated discriminatory actions.  

Audiences of Politically affiliated Media owners - MOM Albania 2018

Dorian Matlija, Legal Assessment (2018), Media Ownership Monitor Albania

(Political) Control Over Media Funding

Result: MEDIUM RISK

This indicator assesses the influence of the state on the functioning of the media market, focusing particularly on the risk of discrimination in the distribution of state advertisements/ funding. The discrimination can be reflected in favoritism towards political parties or affiliates of political parties in the government, or in penalization of media criticizing the government. State advertising is understood as any advertising paid by governments (national, regional, local) and state-owned institutions and companies. Spectrum allocation and government subsidies are also part of state/political control or support to media sector.


Why?

  • Audio-visual Media Authority (AMA) is the regulating body responsible for spectrum allocation, i.e. distribution of licenses and frequencies. The board of AMA is politically elected and the institutions is not seen as completely independent. The digitalization process, distribution of frequencies was supervised by AMA and resulted in a highly concentrated market.  
  • State subsidies to media companies are prescribed through the article 53 of the law on VAT of the Republic of Albania (92/2014) and provide VAT exemption for furnishing of services of newspapers, magazines and books; and VAT exemption for supplying of advertising for print and electronic media; i.e. all media are exempt of value added tax which in Albania is 20%; State subsidies are provided to RTSH, the Public Broadcaster – 23% of the broadcaster’s budget comes directly from the state budget, whereas 56% from the national tax levied from each household with the electricity bill monthly (around 0.80 euro).
  • Some rules exist on state advertising, but the distribution of state advertising is not transparent. The rules on distribution of state advertising are not clear and no public information is available on the actual recipients of state advertising. State advertisements are not distributed fairly among the media. There is no mechanism to guarantee that state advertisements are based on audience share. The state advertising procurement rules are rather simplistic and leave plenty of room for abuse, especially since the procedure allows for advertising contracts to be awarded to advertising agencies, which can then outsource the contract without being obliged to respect any specific criteria. There is no body mandated with monitoring this process. Another problem regarding advertisements is that they are often commissioned in the context of various projects implemented by central or local government authorities that are not subject to any procurement rules.
  • MOM sent a FOI request to the Ministry of Finance’s Treasury transactions of public institutions’ spendings on media (advertising) – in their response they suggested to check their online database. However, there is no code for state advertising, thus it is impossible to identify public funds spent on media, because they are not clearly labelled as advertising.
  • State funds are not as vital for the media market in general, as they largely depend on commercial advertising. Print market is more dependent on state advertising, but it is a small market with a low readership.
LOW (1)MEDIUM (2)HIGH (3)
Is the state advertising distributed to media proportionately to their audience share? 
State advertising is distributed to the media relatively proportionately to the audience shares of media. State advertising is distributed disproportionately (in terms of audience share) to the media.State advertising is distributed exclusively to few media outlets, which do not cover al major media outlets in the country. 
How would you assess the rules of distribution of state advertising?    
State advertising is distributed to media outlets based on transparent rules.     State advertising is distributed to media outlets based on a set of rules but it is unclear whether they are transparent.     There are no rules regarding distribution of state advertising to media outlets or these.   
IMPORTANCE OF STATE ADVERTISING    

What is the share of state advertising as part of the overall TV / Radio / Print/ online advertising market? 

VALUE: There is no data available on the share of state advertising in the market.  

Share of state advertising is <5% of the overall market.    Share of state advertising is 5%-10% of the overall market.     Share of state advertising is > 10% of the overall market.·  

Sources: 

Dorian Matlija, Legal Assessment (2018), Media Ownership Monitor Albania
The Law on VAT of the Republic of Albania (92/2014)

(Political) Control Over News Agencies

Result: HIGH RISK

This indicator assesses the range and independence of competing news agencies, including the assessment of the level of state ownership and level of independence of state owned news agencies.

Why?

The Albanian Telegraphic Agency (ATA) – is the only news agency and is state-owned, politically controlled but not influential. There are no other news agencies in Albania. Historically, news agencies have played a limited role in the Albanian media market and ATA has always been perceived as a propaganda tool with limited impact on audiences. The current director of ATA Armela Krasniqi, served earlier as a spokesperson for the ruling Socialist Party and later for the government, when the socialists came to power in 2013. In 2017 she was appointed as director of ATA.   

Score: 3

LOW (1)MEDIUM (2)HIGH (3)

What is the market share of the leading news agency?

VALUE: There is no market share for news agencies available.    

No news agency dominates the market (occupy >30% of the market of news agencies).  One news agency has <50% ≥30% share of the market of news agencies.  The leading news agency has ≥50% market share.    
How would you evaluate the political affiliation and/or dependence of the largest news agency? 
None of the largest news agencies is dependent on political groupings in terms of ownership, affiliation of key personnel or editorial policy.     At least one of the largest news agencies is dependent on political groupings in terms of ownership, affiliation of key personnel or editorial policy.     Most or all of the largest news agencies is dependent on political groupings in terms of ownership, affiliation of key personnel or editorial policy.    

Sources: 

Albanian Telegraphic Agency (ATA)

  • Project by
    BIRN ALBANIA
  •  
    Reporters without borders
  • Funded by
    BMZ