Media against Free Political Ads

The Society of Audiovisual Media (SMA) has reacted to the changes in the law for audiovisual media. These changes will oblige private national, regional, or satellite television channels to transmit political advertisements for free during the election campaign.

The amendments were approved by Parliament on Monday with 118 votes in favor and 2 against.

In a declaration, the SMA declares:

The law has been approved in gross violation of the Constitution which guarantees the freedom and protection of private property in Albania. Also it is in conflict with the depositions of the current Electoral Code, which contains different definitions concerning advertisements during the electoral campaign. This law presents the only case in the world where political parties is given the right to force free and private media to provide a service for free. […]

[We call upon] all radio and television stations in Albania not to acknowledge this law of thieves, drafted and approved in gross contradiction within an afternoon, without respecting the parliamentary procedures for drafting and approving law, without first hearing the interested parties, in complete secrecy even from the deputies themselves, whom received the law on their table only a few minutes before the vote. […]

[If] the parties didn’t manage to earn enough money, or don’t want to reveal the money they made during those years in power and the opposition, they have to accept by means of a law or Decision of the Council of Minister that the costs for the advertisements be paid by the Central Election Commission, as they proposed before. […]

In case this is refused, the SMA will file a complaint against this law at the Constitutional Court, […] denouncing it as an act of robbery of private property in gross contradiction with every international norm about the functioning of private property and the freedom of the media.

This is the first time that the SMA seems to worry about the freedom of the media, in spite of the fact that Albania is systematically ranked lowest in terms of press freedom in Europe.