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 - 2014 Introduction
Overall Country Score: 2.29
Parliamentary elections and the peaceful transfer of power in June were not enough to advance Albania’s European Union (EU) integration ambitions. At the end of 2013, Albania was refused candidate status for EU membership for the fourth time. The main reason cited was Albania’s lack of sufficient progress in the struggle against corruption and organized crime. Transparency International confirmed this diagnosis, ranking Albania even lower than the prior year in its global corruption scale.
Faced with defeat by a crushing share of the voters, the Democratic Party (PD) and its prime minister, Sali Berisha, acknowledged the outcome of the elections, peacefully handing power to the left-wing alliance headed by the Socialist Party and Prime Minister Edi Rama. However, this orderly transfer failed to soothe the country’s political climate. It seems that the society has been unable to overcome the perennial political conflict, and political camps remain divided—as seen in a case regarding Syria’s chemical weapons. While the Albanian government considered a US request to dismantle about 1,000 tons of Syrian chemical weapons on Albanian territory, the PD opposition joined the environmentalists’ protests by exerting pressure and demanding that the government deny the American request, which it did eventually.
All signs indicate that the year ahead will be even more difficult, amid the deepening economic crisis. The PD has warned that a chain of protests will start against the government, not only because of what it claims was the politically motivated firing of its members in the administration, but also due to the economic and fiscal policies the government is applying.
In the fractured political environment, the most complicated issue remains the struggle against corruption and organized crime. The absence of an independent judiciary appears to be the greatest handicap in this respect. The political ties of the prosecutor and the judiciary in the past two decades hindered the war against government corruption, and the change in power did not break this pattern.
The media environment reflects the country’s political and economic situation as well. Examples of ongoing challenges include informal labor terms for most journalists, the dependency of some commercial media outlets on political parties, self-censorship, government allocation of public advertising to media that favor their interests, and the politicization of regulatory bodies and public media.