A Family Affair – The myth of media pluralism in Albania: Media Ownership Monitor

Audience and market concentration distorts the Albanian media market. The resulting lack of plurality can be detected in television and radio but also with the printed press. This is one of the results of the three-months-long investigative research that the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania (BIRN Albania) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) have jointly carried out. The results of the “Media Ownership Monitor Albania”  shed light on the Albanian media market by disclosing who owns and ultimately controls mass media.

The results of the project are accessible in Albanian and English on albania.mom-rsf.org. The site offers comprehensive information about the media landscape in the country, including a database of major media outlets, companies and their owners, as well as their economic and political interests, to the general public.

Kristina Voko, Executive Director of BIRN Albania states that finally

the myth that, despite its shortcomings, the Albanian media represents a plurality of views has been shattered. A handful of families reach more than half of audience share and 90% of the revenues in our media market.”

After decades of transition and numerous attempts from civil society activists inside Albania, as well as substantial contributions from the international community, the media landscape seems to slide further away from a path towards independence, plurality and sustainability”, added Olaf Steenfadt, RSF’s global Project Director of the Media Ownership Monitor.

Excerpts from the key findings of the full report published by RSF:

  • Supported by a vast dataset, the Media Ownership Monitor proves exceptionally high concentration levels of the Albanian media market. For example, the top four owners in the Television segment reach half of the total audience.
  • The Albanian media market is small and oversaturated, resulting in harsh economic pressure. The top four newspaper publishers control 86.5% of the print market combined.
  • Although the audio-visual market is regulated by law, most media experts perceive its regulatory body, the Audio-visual Media Authority, as being under the direct or indirect influence of political and corporate actors.
  • According to the MOM’s research methodology, political control over media outlets in Albania was rated as high. The audience reach of the politically affiliated media owners ranges from 65,18% (Abacus data) to 75,86% (Telemetrix data).
  • As the MOM website illustrates in detail, the Albanian media market is controlled by a small number of powerful owners with strong political ties. At the same time, the few independent outlets and journalists often face intimidation and verbal abuse from politicians.

Read the full report by RSF

Initiated by the German section of the international human rights NGO Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the Media Ownership Monitor project is a global research and advocacy effort to promote transparency and media pluralism at an international level. In Albania, it was conducted together with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania (BIRN Albania) from December2017 to March 2018.