The new Head of the Albanian Audiovisual Media Authority, the institution responsible for overseeing the controversial and “draconian” media law will be a senior official of the ruling Socialist Party.
The race for the position is underway at the moment but four candidates have served in political positions in the PS governance and two of them have worked creating political propaganda.
The candidates for the position are:
- Denis Dedej the former Director of Communications at the Ministry of Social Welfare, and the same role within the Municipality of Tirana since 2016.
- Edvin Kukunja, former Legal Advisor at the Ministry of Education and the same role at the Ministry of Justice from 2018.
- Fatjon Hoxhalli, from 2016 to 2017 was an advisor to the Deputy Prime Minister Niko Peleshi and remained his advisor when he became Minister of Agriculture until 2019, he then did a three-month stint as an advisor to Minister of Education Besa Shahini in 2019.
- Maklen Misha, Advisor at the Ministry of Defense in 2019, Advisor for Public Communication for Mayor of Tirana Erion Veliaj between 2015-2018, involved in drafting the programme of employment for the Socialist Party between 2011-2013, and former counsellor of now Prime Minister Edi Rama when he was Mayor of Tirana.
AMA is the regulatory body of radio and television broadcasting in Albania. The law stipulates that the AMA must be an independent body, as it has the authority to punish violations of laws and standards by the media and to grant or revoke licenses.
In this context, the AMA is an essential institution in the media market and therefore in freedom of expression.
The law prohibits the nomination of party members, but not of political functionaries in governing bodies such as that of an advisor in the cabinets of ministers and senior political officials.
The drafting of the highly contested law on online media, awaited with serious criticism by the community of journalists and international institutions, is being accompanied by the attempt to politically capture the AMA. Should the media laws go ahead, Albanian online media portals will be at the mercy of a state-controlled institution, headed by a senior Socialist Party career official.
Such a move is yet another example of the government’s capture of institutions such as the judiciary, courts, police, public authorities, state institutions, and now the media.