Albania was the most isolated country in Eastern Europe under the communist regime of former Stalinist dictator Enver Hoxha. During Hoxha’s nearly half-century grip on power all media were under the control of the Party of Labor and foreign TV broadcasts were routinely jammed. After the collapse of the regime in 1991, Albania became a parliamentary republic, freedom of the press was guaranteed by law, while the country embarked in a tumultuous transition to democracy.
During communism Albania had only one state-owned television station and two daily newspapers, controlled tightly by the communist party or its affiliated trade unions. With the collapse of the regime, the media also embarked on a process of transformation, with new oppositional outlets and independent newspapers opening up and private broadcasters being established. What followed was an oversaturated market with dozens of print outlets and hundreds of TV stations vying for a share of advertising revenue.
There is no official list of print media in the country, but various reports have put the number of print outlets at more than 200. There is no official data on press circulation but according to some reports the country’s bestselling newspapers do not have a circulation greater than 20,000 copies per day, while most newspapers sell less than 1000 copies. Currently there are about two dozen daily newspapers in the market. There are several press distribution agencies, but three are the main ones. One of them belongs to the state-owned postal company, while the other two, considered to be more efficient, belong to two significant print media groups, Shekulli and Panorama.
There are currently 5 national radio stations broadcasting in Albania and 60 regional ones. Three out of five national stations, Radio Tirana, Radio Tirana 2 and Radio Tirana 3 are public, while the two other, Club FM and Top Albania Radio are private commercial radio stations. The number of regional radio stations, includes four that rebroadcast foreign radio stations: Radio BBC, Radio RFI, Radio World Family, Radio China International, CRI. In this list are included also four community radio stations linked to religious organizations: Radio Spektrum/The Muslim Community; Radio Dodona: Bektashti Order; Radio Maria/ Radio Maria Foundation and Radio Ngjallja/ The Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Albania.
In Albania there are currently six national TV broadcasters, and 56 local television stations. The digital switchover and distribution of seven digital terrestrial frequencies was completed in 2017 by the Albanian Media Authority, AMA. Two of the frequencies were granted to the public broadcaster RTSH, which will host also regional broadcasters, while five other licenses were distributed to the commercial broadcasters Top Channel, Klan TV, Digitalb, Media Vizion, and a fifth frequency went to a newly created company ADTN. According to AMA, until January 30, 2016 in Albania there were also 111 cable networks, 3 digital pay per view platforms, 3 IPTV, 8 OTT and 6 online providers. There were also two satellite broadcasting networks, Digitalb and Tring.
According to surveys, television is the main source of information for the public, followed by the internet, print and radio. The online media has seen an explosion in the last few years, with hundreds of news portals and news aggregators being opened. According to the head of Albania’s Union of Journalists, a Tirana based NGO, in 2017 there more than 650 news portals registered, 72 of them ran by journalists. However, most of the online media, with few exceptions, lack financial resources and in its vast majority republish stories from mainstream commercial news outlets.
According to data provided by IDRA Media, the print advertising market from January to November 2017 was worth 361.8 million lek (€2.7 million), while the online market was worth €3.08 million, radio 430.8 million lek (€3.2 million). IDRA Media estimated that in 2015 the TV advertising market was €33 million. However, this market is dominated by a handful of big advertisers, mainly telecom companies, which can easily skew editorial policy.
Albania was ranked in the 76th place out of 180 countries in Reporters without Borders “Freedom of the Press Index” for 2017. This represents a drop since 2003, when Albania was ranked in the 34th place as the best performer in the Western Balkans. Meanwhile the Freedom of the Press Report published by Freedom House, ranks Albania’s media as partly free. Despite its problems, media in Albania was ranked by 84% of respondents in a survey in the top three institutions that investigate and report law violations from high level officials
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