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Copyright: Albanian Media Institute - Instituti Shqiptar i Medias, 2011
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New general director of PBS elected
RoundtableA roundtable on implementation of FOIA by local government was organized in Shkoder on May 3. The main aim of the roundtable was to discuss the main findings of the testing exercise of FOIA implementation by local government. This exercise was conducted in several main cities in the country, in view of the recently passed law on access to information and the new structure and organization of local government in the country. The participants included journalists, representatives of local government, and representatives of civil society. They presented their own experience in seeking or giving information, the main problems in this area, and discussed ways of improving the situation. The roundtable was organized by AMI, with the support of the US Embassy.
Roundtable on implementation of FOIA by local government
Constitutional court rules in favor of removing ownership limitations for national broadcasters
The Constitutional Court issued a press release on May 13, stating that it had granted the request of the Association of Albanian Electronic Media to abolish media ownership limitations in place for the national commercial broadcasters. The request was brought before the Constitutional Court on April 19 by the Association of Electronic Media, which argued that the limitation imposed is not constitutional, as it affects equality before law and the right to property. The claim of the association was also supported by the representatives of the Audiovisual Media Authority (AMA,) while representatives of the Parliament stated that the limitation was in place to protect freedom of expression, which must prevail in this case.

This development comes after attempts made last year by MP Balla, and later to some degree also supported by AMA, which sought to repeal the entire limitations on ownership of media shares, namely Article 62 of the Law on Audiovisual Media. After clear opposition from international bodies, the Parliamentary Commission on Media rejected the proposed amendment. The current court decision paves the way for licensing of the existing commercial platforms in their form, along with the national broadcasters that also own part of the platforms.
EU Award for Investigative Journalism in 2015 announced in Albania
EU AwardThe EU Award winners for Investigative Journalism in 2015 were announced in a ceremony organized by the Albanian Media Institute on May 12 in Tirana. Journalist Leonard Bakillari was awarded first prize in the EU Investigative Journalism Award 2015 for Albania contest, for his article on corruption in the judiciary system, published in reporter.al news portal. Second prize went to Ornela Liperi of economic magazine "Monitor" for her article on the financial crisis and debt situation of business companies in Albania. The award for best article by young investigative journalist was given to Habjon Hasani for his TV report on the petroleum concession and its effects on economy, in the framework of the program "Të Paekspozuarit" of Ora News TV. Award ceremony was held on May 12th, 2016, at Tirana Times Bookshop, Tirana. A total of 29 investigative stories were nominated for this year's EU Award in Albania, 18 of whom from journalists under 35. Jury consisted of five prominent media professionals and civil society representatives: Aleksander Cipa, head of Union of Albanian Journalists and jury chair, Lutfi Dervishi, media expert, Ani Ruci, Deutsche Welle correspondent, Rrapo Zguri, professor of journalism, and Lavdrim Lita, member of EU Policy HUB.

"Freedom of expression and freedom of the media implies a committment to democracy, good governance and political accountability. These are some of prerequisites for a country to become part of the EU and one of the reasons why each of you play such an important role in creating EU standards," said Jan Rudolph, Head of Political, Economic and Information Section announcing the EU Investigative Journalism Awards.

Aleksander Cipa, chair of the jury, appreciated the difficulties that investigative journalists face, at a time when their job is of particular importance to our societies. However, he considered it a good sign that the number of nominations for the award has increased, along with the fact that most journalists are young, which bodes well for the future of investigative journalism in the country. In addition, he pointed out that the broad range of topics covered in the nominated articles and TV stories also indicates the good efforts of investigative journalists in the country.

The EU award for investigative journalism will be given each year in the period of three years in each of seven EU-Enlargement countries: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey, rewarding the investigative journalistic work published in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Investigative stories contributing to transparency and reporting on societal issues related to abuse of power and fundamental rights, corruption and organized crime that otherwise would not have been brought to the public's attention will qualify for the award.
The Steering Council of public broadcaster Radio Televizioni Shqiptar (RTSH) elected on May 6 the new General Director of the institution, Thoma Gellci. He has worked as a journalist and editor since the late 80s. Gellci has worked for several years as editor-in-chief of Socialist Party newspaper "Zeri i Popullit", and has also served as press adviser to then-Socialist Prime Minister Ilir Meta. During the open competition for the post of general director, which was held in June 2015, he published a wide platform on his vision for the reform RTSH must undertake.

Even though the race for new general director was opened on June 2015, the voting in the Steering Council was deadlocked, since none of the two final candidates could receive the required number of votes. In April 2016 the ruling majority passed an amendment according to which, after three rounds of voting, which had already been exhausted in summer of 2015, the new director could be elected with a simple majority. The opposition expressed its dissent with the amendment, while also considering Gellci a person close to the current Prime Minister.
Assault against TV journalist
KorcaEduart Ilnica, Telesport TV journalist, was assaulted and beaten up by a group of persons on May 9, and was then hospitalized. Alban Vogli, the president of Kastrioti, Kruja football club, was arrested soon after by the police. The police reported that the incident followed a report of the journalist on the violence that ensued during a local football match where Kastrioti football club was playing. According to Telesport, the media Ilnica works for, the reason is attributed to revenge of Vogli against Ilnica's posting on his Facebook profile of a video from Telesport TV show "Procesi Sportiv," that denounced the video that the president of Kastrioti had been involved in at the end of the match.

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic condemned the attack on Ilnica, calling on the authorities to carry out a swift and thorough investigation into the incident. "I condemn this attack; violence against journalists must not be tolerated," Mijatovic said. "I welcome the swift response by the police and hope that the investigation will yield results and bring all perpetrators to justice," she said.

Previously the Union of Albanian Journalists also reacted swiftly, expressing the concern and condemning the attack. They called on the authorities to find and punish the persons that dared to harm a journalist in this way only because he was doing his duty. Later the Association of Professional Journalists and the Association of Electronic media also issued statements condemning the attack.