Albania Media Sustainability Index (MSI)
About the MSI
IREX designed the MSI to measure the strength and viability of any country’s media sector. The MSI considers all the factors that contribute to a media system—the quality of journalism, effectiveness of management, the legal environment supporting freedom of the press, and more—to arrive at scores on a scale ranging between 0 and 4. These scores represent the strength of the media sector components and can be analyzed over time to chart progress (or regression) within a country. Additionally, countries or regions may be compared to one another. IREX currently conducts the MSI in 80 countries, and produced the first Europe & Eurasia MSI in 2001.
MSI Albania - 2013 Introduction
Overall Country Score: 2.21
Even though it started as a comparatively quiet political year, by the end of 2012, Albania had been refused candidate status for membership in the European Union for the third time. Refusal to grant candidate status is related to the lack of sufficient progress in the completion of democratization reforms, particularly in strengthening the independence of the judiciary, as well as the lack of positive records in the fight against corruption and organized crime. Almost parallel to the rejection of the candidate status, the annual report of Transparency International (TI) ranked Albania as the most corrupt country in the Balkans region, excluding Kosovo.
Political life seemed to be calmer than the previous year, and it even saw consensus between the two parties, as in the case of the election of the People’s Advocate. However, the conflicts over more essential issues could not be avoided. Parliamentary political parties barely managed to reach an agreement on the restriction of immunity for members of parliament and judges. Although at first sight it aims to intensify the fight against corruption, the reform can be distorted by other factors, such as the lack of an independent judiciary. The election of the president of the republic was also controversial and not consensual. Contrary to the insistence of the opposition and even the suggestions of the international community, Prime Minister Sali Berisha took advantage of the 2008 amendments to the constitution and elected one of the members of his party, former Minister of Interior Bujar Nishani, to the post of president.
The year concluded with political parties mutually blaming each other for the EU candidacy rejection. The debate is becoming even more heated in the run-up to the parliamentary elections of June 2013. Incumbent Prime Minister Berisha will seek a third term of government for the Democratic Party, while the opposition, led by the Socialist Party, considers Berisha’s exit necessary to fight corruption and organized crime, while paving the way for economic and democratic revival.
Combined with the effects of the deepening economic crisis, political conflict has further increased pressure on the media, eroding independence. The sketch of the media landscape in the European Commission’s Progress Report for Albania in 2012 is far from optimistic: “Editorial independence continues to be hampered by private political and economic interests. There are concerns that public advertising is directed to the television channels that are supportive of the government.” The report also mentioned many other issues, such as the pressure of the economic crisis on the media, the lack of employment contracts for journalists as one of the roots of their self-censorship, and government interference in the appointment of public-television managers.
The MSI publication finds Albania on the eve of parliamentary elections to be held in June 2013. Considering that during the 20 years of transition elections have generally been contested and far from free and fair, these elections are of decisive importance for Albania to continue toward European integration. The opposition has warned that the government of Prime Minister Berisha is mobilizing for a fraudulent election, while Berisha has publicly promised that the elections will be free and fair. For an increasing number of observers, this promise is dubious, considering the absence of independent institutions with which to ensure a transparent process, in spite of society’s broad desire for clean elections.