From: Alice Elizabeth Taylor
Director of Public Broadcaster Rejects OSCE Criticism for Lack of Impartiality

During the 5th annual Media Development Forum in Tirana organized by the OSCE, Director of the Albanian State Broadcaster (RTSH) rejected the conclusions of the final OSCE-ODIHR report as “gossip” and “untruths.”

Attended by OSCE Ambassador Bernd Borchard, EU Ambassador Luigi Soreca, OSCE representatives from across the region, the Council of Europe, journalists, and members of civil society, the topics on the agenda of the Media Development Forum included the increasing threats against journalists, political pressure, the new phenomenon of “journalists attacking journalists,” and problems with the concentration of media ownership in Albania.

When the OSCE Representative on Media Freedom, Adis Mustedanagić raised a number of concerns about the so-called “anti-defamation package” proposed by the government, RTSH’s Director Thoma Gëllçi spoke at length about the importance of media independence, autonomy, and impartiality.

When confronted with the fact that the final draft of the OSCE-ODIHR report on the June 30th elections stated that he was a “former editor in chief of the Socialist Party newspaper ‘Zëri i Popullit’ and served as the Head of the Department of Information in several SP governments,” while noting that “furthermore, RTSH remains partially dependent on state funding” leading to “concerns about the impartiality of the public broadcaster” and “politicisation,” Gëllçi replied that the interlocutors from the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission were “victims of gossip”. 

“The ODIHR are victims of gossip by those who are spreading deliberate untruths,” he said. He continued by saying he is not political, that RTSh had covered the elections fairly, and that both the Democratic Party and LSI were very happy with the way the June 30 elections were covered by the state broadcaster.

The OSCE-ODIHR report, however, noted that RTSH was “marginally neutral” and covered the SP in a “neutral and positive manner.” It also stated that “RTSH’s main channel, RTSH1, mainly served as a platform to promote the SP.”

Gëllçi concluded that funding for RTSh through taxpayers’ money should be doubled.