Albania has been categorised as a medium risk country in terms of the plurality of its media. This is according to the latest report from the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom.
Analysing the situation in the country between 2018-2019, the report ranked Albania alongside Cyprus, Bulgaria, Malta and Hungary.
Media pluralism is considered as one of the essential pillars of democracy and it is enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Human Rights of the European Union and the European Convention on Human Rights. The report created by the Centre presents the results of a risk assessment conducted across all EU Member States and three candidate countries, including Albania.
The report found that digital transformation has had a big impact on media pluralism and freedom across all states. The analysis was conducted in four areas; basic protection, market plurality, political independence, and social inclusiveness.
Overall, the risk to media pluralism and the basic protection in place across the 30 countries is considered low-medium, but some individual countries performed better than others. Most of those surveyed including Austria, France, Germany. Greece and Slovakia scored as a low risk, but Albania, Croatia, Bulgaria and Hungary were deemed a medium risk. Turkey was the only country to score a high risk in this section.
Issues that were identified include the arbitrary use of lawsuits or SLAPP suits that result in a chilling effect on journalists and limitations to their freedom of expression. There was also a lack of transparency among online platforms in justifying their content moderation policies and techniques.
Other issues included insufficient protection of whistleblowers, poor working conditions for journalists, and the increasing number of threats that journalists are subjected to. Many of these, the report notes, come from politicians.
In terms of market plurality, it is no surprise that Albania scored as high risk along with Turkey, Hungry, and Bulgaria. This comes from ownership concentration both in the news and digital sphere. Commercial owners are likely to exert influence over editorial content and transparency over who owns which platforms is lacking.
Albania scored medium risk for political independence, the independence of media regulators, and its respect for freedom of expression. It was also noted that Albanian media did not respect the difference between the public’s right to know, and the right to privacy and dignity.
When it comes to social inclusiveness- providing content and access to minorities, regional communities, disabled individuals and women, Albania also fared badly. Scoring as high risk, this means that not only is access to the media for these groups limited, but they are not represented in stories, management, or as journalists.
The report also rated Albania as high risk due to it being a country that has been repeatedly petitioned by international and local experts to guarantee a safe environment for journalists and to stop threatening their safety and independence.
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