Family owned companies dominate the market
Despite its many shortcomings, for many years researchers perceived the Albanian media as vigorous and fairly diverse – mainly due to the large number of outlets competing in a small market. However, new data on audience and market concertation, probed by the MOM team, suggests that the perception of plurality is an illusion, as audience and revenues remain concentrated in the hands of a few, family owned groups, which dominate the media market.
Lack of reliable audience data
Two research agencies – Telemetrix and Abacus – compete in measuring the television audience in Albania, while data on the print and radio markets are available only from Abacus.
The local media expert community believes that the audience measurements of the two agencies are skewed to support either of the country’s two main media houses Top Media and Klan. Some of the TV stations that responded to MOM’s request for information also claimed that there are no reliable audience measurements in the country at all. The obvious discrepancies between the data available from Telemetrix and Abacus seem to support these concerns, reflecting a high risk to the media pluralism in the Albanian television market.
Online media, has seen, a boom in recent years, like everywhere else, with hundreds of new news portals being opened. However, market data in this segment is either scarce or considered as highly unreliable, like for example, Alexa’s sample is contested by the expert community. It also includes 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 even offer data on Albania. But regardless of audience data, the fact is that online media seems to be growing in importance. Most of the selected traditional media outlets also publish online editions, amplifying their reach. Therefore, the data provided here might even be an underestimation of the real audience reach and potential influence on public opinion the owners of these cross-media brands might have.
High Audience concentration in TV and Radio
Although audience data is disputed, MOM team’s calculation of the audience concentration shows that, based on Abacus data, the four major owners (Frangaj Family, Hoxha family, Dulaku Family and Ndroqi Family) in the market control almost half – 48.93% – of the audience share. Based on Telemetrix data, four largest owners (Frangaj Family, Hoxha Family, Irfan Hysenbelliu and the Dulaku Family) control even 58.6 % of the audience share. Based on MOM’s methodology, the Abacus data suggest a medium market concentration, while Telemetrix data suggest a high concentration in the TV market.
Concentration is even higher in the radio market segment, where the four major owners (Hoxha Family, Arben Bylykbashki, Public Radio and Ndroqi Family) control almost two thirds – 63.96% – of the listeners share.
In the print market, one major owner (Irfan Hysenbelliu) controls single handedly 30.22 % of the readership, while the four largest owners (Irfan Hysenbelliu, Koço Kokëdhima, Henri Çili and the Dabulla Borthers) control 43.29% combined.
High Cross-Media Ownership Concentration.
Ownership across the different sectors – TV, print and radio – in Albania is also rated high. MOM calculated the cross-media concentration on the basis of weighted audience shares for the print, radio and TV markets, which, rather than indicating economic strength, demonstrate the potential influence of selected owners on public opinion.
MOM has calculated cross-media audience concentration based on audience data provided by Telemetrix and Abacus Research. Even though deviating from one another, both sets of data show a high risk of cross-media audience concentration. In Albania the 8 major owners reach across different media sectors 72.51% of the audience according to data provided by Abacus and even 80,1% according to Telemetrix.
For lack of data, online media outlets could not be included in the cross-media concentration calculation, even though it seems highly relevant in terms of consumption – even more so than print and radio. It can however be expected, that online outlets of the major media brands in Albania would even amplify the cross-media concentration figures.
High concentration in TV and Print Markets.
While audience concentration looks at the reach of media outlets, the market concentration reflects the economics, based on revenues, of the entities behind.
The analysis of market shares for TV and Print, provide even more evidence of concentration. According to MOM’s calculations, based on the 2016 financial reports, the four major owners in the free-to-air TV have a combined market share of 89.6%, which is considered high. If the revenues from digital networks DigitAlb and Tring, plus the Public Broadcasters RTSH, would be included, the market clout of the four major owners would even rise to 94%.
The four biggest owners in the commercial free-to-air TV market are the Hoxha Family with Top Media, the Frangaj Family with Klan Media, the Dulaku Family with Media Vizion and Irfan Hysenbelliu with News 24. The two major owners in this segment alone, the Hoxha and the Frangaj family, have a combined market share of 71.7%. In the total TV market, including digital distributors and public broadcaster, the Hoxha family controls singlehandedly 55% of the market.
In free-to-air TV, the revenues of the three major owners (Hoxha Family, Frangaj Family and Dulaku Family), which solely come from adverting, account for more than half of the total ad revenues in this domain, which are estimated at 38.5 million Euro in 2017.
Within the relatively small print market, the concentration is also high. The market leader, Irfan Hysenbelliu, alone controls over half of the market share (53.9%), while all four major owners in the print market (Hysenbelliu, Koço Kokëdhima, Leka Brothers and Dabulla Brothers) have a market share of 86.5%.
The MOM team could not calculate the market share of the four major outlets in radio and online, for lack of financial data.
Currently the Hoxha Family controls three of the six national televisions licenses in Albania and three out of five digital licenses, with its companies DigitAlb, ADTN and Top Channel TV. This was made possible through an important amendment of the law on audiovisual media in Albania, originally adopted in 2013 with the assistance from international organizations and imposing clear restrictions on the ownership of TV broadcasters. Article 62 of that law stipulated that a “person or entity could not own more than 40 per cent of the shares in a company that has been awarded a national broadcasting license”. In May 2015, the Socialist MP Taulant Balla introduced a bill to amend this very article and remove all ownership limits. While the Audio-visual Media Authority (AMA) supported it, the “Balla amendment” drew stiff opposition from the European Union, the OSCE and the whole media development community. Following the outcry, media owners resorted to appealing the article 62/3 at the Constitutional Court, which in May 2016 found in their favor and struck the article from the law as unconstitutional. This ruling opened the way for the Hoxha family to extend their already existing dominance in media market to the digital distribution networks.
Albania Freedom of the Press, 2015, Freedom House
Accessed on 6 March 2018
Albania's Digital TV 'Beauty Contest' Turns Ugly, 2015, BalkanInsight.com Accessed on March 6 1018
Gjykata Kushtetuesei hap rrugën 'monopolizimit' të transmetimeve TV dixhitale, 2016 Reporter.al Albania's Constitutional Court opens the way for the monopolization of the media market, 2016, Reporter.al, Accessed on March 6 2018