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AMI Newsletters             2014

January - February - March - April - May - June - July - August - September - October - November - December

Dear readers,
The Albanian Media Institute is presenting you with the Albanian Media Newsletter.  This electronic monthly newsletter tries to keep you updated on the developments of the Albanian media and training activities for journalists at the Albanian Media Institute and elsewhere in Albania.  We attempt to provide a glimpse on the evolution of the Albanian media landscape, bringing closer to you the media situation in our country, hoping to provide useful information.

AMI NEWSLETTER - March 2014


DOCUMENTARY MOVIE PROJECTION “PUSSY RIOT: A PUNK PRAYER”

"Pussy Riot: A punk prayer" was the documentary movie that was projected to an audience of journalists, academics, and civil society representatives on March 25. This film looks at the real people behind the now famous group of female artists. Following the bizarre and intricate twists of the trial, the movie observes the three young women fighting back against a justice system that seems impervious to logic. The movie shows what transformed these women from political activists in to modern day icons. Moving from farce to tragedy and back again, the film explores how political and religious forces contrived to make an example out of three young artists who stepped out of line. Mike Lerner, the director of the documentary, was also present at the screening and participated in the discussion that ensued afterwards with the participants. This documentary was projected by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Frontline Club.

MEDIA TALK ON CURRENT AFFAIRS IN UKRAINE

A media talk focusing on current affairs in Ukraine took place on March 12, with the participation of journalists, editors, civil society representatives, and academicians. Key speaker was Alessio Vinci, former correspondent of CNN in Moscow. Some of the key topics addressed included internal economic and political situation in Ukraine as well as a brief look on historical relations with Russia. Specific attention was paid to he developments in Crimea, analyzed in the geopolitical context. The role of other countries involved and the potential for diplomatic agreement and influence was another topic addressed. The speaker discussed with participants also the potential developments in the future in this region and the role of Russia in the current global affairs, too. The media talk was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Frontline Club.

RULING MAJORITY RETRACTS AMENDMENT TO AUDIOVISUAL MEDIA LAW

The Deputy Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Media, Alfred Peza, of the Socialist Party, withdrew on March 25 his proposed amendment to the Audiovisual Media Law, in a letter sent to the Assembly’s Administration. Peza’s amendment to the said law envisaged the total restructuring of the Audio-visual Media Authority (AMA) Council. However, it remains to be decided whether the current chair of AMA, Endira Bushati, will continue to serve in the council. A memo of the Assembly’s Service for the Oversight of the Independent Institutions concludes that the current term of the chairwoman has expired. According to the memo, Bushati cannot remain Chair, because her term as a member of the AMA Council has already expired. Bushati has opposed this claim, stating that the interpretation is not correct and that her term has not expired yet.

COURSE ON MEDIA LEGISLATION

A training course on media legislation took place at the Albanian Media Institute on March 4-5, with the participation of 15 journalists from mainstream media. The course aimed for journalists to become familiar with the existing legislation regarding various media aspects and the situation of its implementation. The specific aspects tackled were defamation, access to information, and labor relations in the media landscape, viewed in a comparative manner with EU standards in this area. After providing a brief overview of the international standards in access to information, the lecturers focused on the Albanian legal provisions in this area. Special attention was paid to a joint initiative with Justice Initiative to make further amendments to the law on access to information. The participants presented their problems in receiving information from public officials in the course of their work. The participants also became familiar with the main legal provisions regarding defamation as changed in 2012 in the Penal and Civil Codes. The main issues addressed were related to the main defamation court cases and to the changing of mechanism of fines with the new amendments. Finally, the participants discussed the situation of labor relations in the media, referring to the regulation in Labor Code and the respective provisions in audiovisual media legislation. This course was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of the European Union.

REGIONAL CONFERENCE ON INDEPENDENCE OF MEDIA REGULATORS 

A regional conference on the indicators for independence of media regulatory bodies, organized by the Council of Europe (CoE), in the framework of the regional Project “Promoting freedom of expression and information and freedom of the media in South-East Europe (SEE)”, took place in Tirana on March 6-7. The conference gathered representatives of the media regulatory bodies, relevant Ministries, parliamentary committees and non-governmental organisations from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Kosovo to discuss indicators for formal and actual independence of regulatory bodies and related challenges. The main speakers addressed the key indicators for formal and de facto independence of regulators, focusing also on specific countries. The participants also shared their own experiences regarding the biggest challenges to independence of regulator, such as legal framework, law implementation, staff rules, accountability, conflict of interest, internal culture of independence, transparency, etc.

REGULATOR’S DECISION SPARKS CONTROVERSY

On March 26 the regulator Audiovisual Media Authority issued a decision on must-carry content, allowing other networks to rebroadcast programs of national TV stations without payment for the viewers. The regulator claimed that this decision was made in view of the failure of commercial TV stations to cover the required territory as stated in their license. The television stations opposed the decision, stating that this decision comes at a time when all these television channels have strongly protested against piracy from cable operators, and added that this is AMA’s second attempt to harm national televisions.

MULTIMEDIA STORYTELLING COURSE

A training course on multimedia storytelling was organized on March 17-21 at the Albanian Media Institute, with the participation of 15 journalists from print, electronic, and online media. The main aim of the course was to teach journalists how to adapt to the new technologies and merge with new media, at least in specific formats. The training course aimed to cover all aspects of multimedia news production; from basic storyboarding to hands-on instruction with hardware and software for production of multimedia stories. Participants also reported on relevant topics of the moment and then constructed a multimedia presentation based on that coverage.

This, and other practical exercises, enabled participants to acquire the main skills they need to produce quality multimedia stories including video recording and editing, photography and audio slideshows, audio recording and editing, voice coaching for narration or stand-ups, Photoshop and web design concepts; producing Adobe Flash Web site packages, etc. The skills learned during the course better prepared journalists to increasing convergence and interactive nature of the media outlets. The course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the European Union.

COURT RULES TO DISMISS FORMER CULTURE MINISTER’S LAWSUIT

The Tirana District Court ruled in favour of Top Channel TV in a lawsuit filed by the former Minister of Culture Ylli Pango, who sought damages amounting to 1 million Euros over an alleged violation of privacy, caused by a secret video shot and aired by Top Channel’s satirical/ investigative show Fiks Fare, in which he appeared as soliciting sexual favours from a young girl in return for employment. This was the second judicial review of this lawsuit by the first instance court after the High Court overturned a previous ruling that imposed a 400,000 Euros fine on the TV broadcaster.


AMI NEWSLETTER - January 2014


NEW PROPOSALS FOR AMENDING AUDIOVISUAL MEDIA LAW

New amendment to audiovisual media law by the ruling majority has sparked debate in the Parliamentary Commission on Education and Public Information Means. The amendment aims to proceed with starting of election of new members and chair of the regulator. According to the law, the current members shall continue to hold their positions after this law enters into force, until the termination mandate set in their appointment. The chairman of the Parliamentary Commission on Media, coming from the opposition, claimed that this amendment aims to threaten continuity and independence of the regulator. He also wrote a letter in this regard to the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic. She responded that her office is closely monitoring the matter. Underlining that it is crucial for the regulator to act as an independent body, she replied that her office is ready to assist with legal analysis of the amendment. In this context, the discussion of the amendment in the commission has been postponed until OSCE review of the amendment is received. Meanwhile, the ruling majority has called on the regulator to refrain from making decisions, as they do not have the mandate for this at the moment.

CONSULTATION ON KICK-OFF OF NEW PROJECT ON MEDIA

Representatives of media industry, media regulators, and academicians engaged in media studies, along with organizations working in media development gathered on January 16 in Tirana to discuss the new project “Improving media freedom and media professionalism in Albanian media.” The project will be implemented by the Albanian Media Institute and two partner centers based in Zagreb and Budapest. The project will combine components that monitor the environment that conduces to freedom of media and expression to those that aim to further improve professionalism of journalists. Specific attention will be paid to monitoring implementation of new media legislation and to training of key actors in improving implementation of legislation. The project also has a component that is devoted to investigative journalism. The participants welcomed the idea of such an initiative, stressing that the attempt to have an all-encompassing project in terms of monitoring, research, and training, is always needed in the Albanian media context. They also stressed that as wider involvement of stakeholders as possible during the whole project was key to the success of the project. In addition, several participants also suggested new sources of work in progress that could be useful for the project research, expressing the desire to share the information during the research process. The project is funded by European Union.

TRAINING COURSE ON ESSENTIAL SKILLS FOR DIGITAL JOURNALIST

A training course aiming to provide reporters with the basic skills needed in the digital era was organized on January 20-24 at the Albanian Media Institute, with the participation of reporters and photojournalists, from the main news agencies in the country and other print and electronic media. This course focused on introducing the participants to the essential skills needed in journalism's digital age, such as mastering the basics of audio, video and other multimedia tools. Apart from these key skills and usage of basic equipment, journalists also discussed the ethical dilemmas and problems that emerged with the increasing use of technology in the media. Significant attention was also paid to the way that storytelling changes and should be adapted with the acquisition of new skills and use of new equipment for reporters. The main aspects addressed during the course included multimedia skills, including audio and video; how to recognize and negotiate the ethical issues specific to multimedia; what it takes to survive and thrive in a constantly changing landscape; how and why you need to build your brand as a journalist; adopting the skills learned to the overall vision and philosophy of the media outlet, etc. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the European Union.

PROJECTION OF DOCUMENTARY MOVIE “GOOGLE AND THE WORLD BRAIN”

The documentary movie “Google and the world brain” was projected for students of the Department of Journalism at the public University of Tirana on January 20. The documentary focuses on Google’s project started in 2002, consisting in scanning millions of books in an effort to create a giant global library. But even as authors whose copyrighted work was being scanned launched a campaign to stop Google in its tracks, the real intention of the project was being called into question. The documentary is full of information, interviews and startling facts, but the people whose business it is to collect and organize information provide some of the most sanguine statements here. as we get closer to developing a near-omniscient form of artificial intelligence, can companies like Facebook and Google really be trusted to direct such staggering changes in human communication? With the future of all human knowledge in the control of an organization that promises to do no evil, isn’t this where all science fiction dystopias begin? This documentary was projected by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Frontline Club. 

REGULATOR ORGANIZES CONFERENCE ON CHILD PROTECTION

The Audiovisual Media Authority (AMA) organized on January 17 a conference titled "Protecting children’s rights in the media.”  Participants included representatives of relevant state bodies, organizations working on child protection, People’s Advocate, Commissioner for Protection of Personal Data, Commissioner Against Discrimination, etc. The chairwoman of the regulator stressed the importance of raising awareness regarding child protection matters in terms of media coverage. The participants noted the important role of the media in informing the public regarding problems and challenges related to children. However, they also noted that media coverage of these cases should be dealt with carefully. The participants also discussed specific ways of achieving these goals.

COURSE ON MEDIA LEGISLATION

A training course on media legislation took place at the Albanian Media Institute on January 29-30, with the participation of 15 journalists from mainstream media. The course aimed for journalists to become familiar with the existing legislation regarding various media aspects and the situation of its implementation. The specific aspects tackled were defamation, access to information, and labor relations in the media landscape, viewed in a comparative manner with EU standards in this area. After providing a brief overview of the international standards in access to information, the lecturers focused on the Albanian legal provisions in this area. Special attention was paid to a joint initiative with Justice Initiative to make further amendments to the law on access to information. The participants presented their problems in receiving information from public officials in the course of their work. The participants also became familiar with the main legal provisions regarding defamation as changed in 2012 in the Penal and Civil Codes. The main issues addressed were related to the main defamation court cases and to the changing of mechanism of fines with the new amendments. Finally, the participants discussed the situation of labor relations in the media, referring to the regulation in Labor Code and the respective provisions in audiovisual media legislation. This course was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of the European Union.

REGULATOR APPROVES BROADCASTING CODE

The Audiovisual Media Authority (AMA) organized on January 24 a meeting aiming to discuss the draft regulations on broadcasting with the media representatives, state bodies overseeing human rights, and other related organizations. The representatives of the regulator stressed the need to reach a broad consensus among actors in approving these regulations. The regulations were related to broadcasting programs rules, audiovisual communications of a commercial nature, unpaid broadcasting of messages of high public interest, determination of events of great importance, etc. This regulation is part of the efforts to complete the legal framework after the approval of the Audiovisual Media law in March 2013. The regulator decided to approve the Broadcasting Code on January 27. However, the deputy chairman of the Parliamentary Media Commission has warned that the regulator should not proceed with making important decisions without completing the membership, claiming that it does not have the quorum to make these decisions.


AMI NEWSLETTER - February 2014


PRESS FREEDOM IN ALBANIA IMPROVES ACCORDING TO REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS

According to Reporters without Borders, which has recently published the Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2014, Albania’s ranking went down from 102nd in 2013 to 85th in 2014. The report stated that the Socialist Party of Albania, who won the June 2013 elections, had an ambition program for the Albanian media: draft new legislation that improves media ownership transparency, reinforce the Albanian public broadcaster’s independence and guarantee media access to information held by state entities. In October 2013, the 11 members of the public broadcaster’s board of governors had exceeded their term of office by one year. According to the report, this gives an idea of the scale of the challenge faced by the new government, which aspires to be accepted as a candidate for European Union membership.
In the Balkans Macedonia marked the lowest ranking, in the 123rd position. The Index also noted that the European Union’s members are becoming more dispersed in the index, a development accelerated by the effects of the economic crisis and outbreaks of populism. Greece was the most notable example, while Hungary was also noted as an example that is deflecting from EU values in terms of freedom of expression.

US DEPARTMENT OF STATE REPORT ADDRESSES MEDIA SITUATION

The US Department of State Report on Human Rights Practices for 2013 for Albania stated that independent media were active and largely unrestrained, although there were cases of direct and indirect political and economic pressure on the media, including threats against journalists. Journalists, on the other hand, practiced self-censorship. The report concluded that government controlled the editorial line of the public Albanian Radio and Television. Independence of commercial media was also not strong, with business owners freely using media outlets to gain favor and promote their interests with both major parties. A major source of concern this year has also been the distribution of public funds for advertisements to media outlets, which was based on personal and political favoritism rather than viewership or readership. In addition, several incidents against journalists were noticed. Journalists complained that publishers and editors censored their work directly and indirectly in response to political and commercial pressures. Furthermore, many journalists complained that a lack of employment contracts frequently hindered their ability to report objectively and encouraged them to practice self-censorship.

DOCUMENTARY MOVIE PROJECTION

“Syria: Across the lines” was the documentary movie that was projected to an audience of journalists, academics, and civil society representatives on February 25. The documentary focuses on the Orontes River valley, describing how it turned from a place of peaceful coexistence for Syria’s many sects and religions to a sectarian frontline. On one side, the rebel Free Syrian Army holds ground in Sunni villages whose residents are calling for the fall of President Assad and his regime. But less than a mile away, Alawite villagers remain fiercely loyal to the government, and gladly host army checkpoints that daily fire shells and mortars into the Sunni villages across the valley. The movie resulted from unprecedented access to both sides from director, Olly Lambert, who lived along this frontline for five weeks, offering a raw and unflinching look at a nation that is breaking apart. The director was also present at the screening and participated in the discussion that ensued afterwards with the participants. This documentary was projected by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Frontline Club.

DECISIONS ON REGULATORY AUTHORITIES POSTPONED

The Parliamentary Commission of Media and Public Information Means has convened several times this month, but there has been no further progress in election of Steering Council of public Radio Televizioni Shqiptar (KDRTSH.) After interviewing 65 candidates for 10 vacancies, as well as four candidates for the post of chairman of KDRTSH in December, the commission has not agreed on the procedure for electing new members of Steering Council, lacking consensus. The process has been further delayed by the withdrawal of one of the candidates for chair of KDRTSH, opening the process to new candidates again.
Meanwhile, on February 14 the Parliamentary Commission on Laws held a meeting to analyze the amendment proposed by Deputy Chair of the Parliamentary Commission on Media Alfred Peza, on the election of new members of the Audiovisual Media Authority (AMA.) The Commission recommended that the Parliamentary Commission on Media approve the amendment and take it to the plenary session for voting. However MPs of the opposition suggested that the Commission of Laws should wait for foreign expertise and then give a recommendation on the matter, stating that the independent institutions were being affected by this amendment and procedure.

TRAINING COURSE ON WEB DESIGNING PRINCIPLES

A training course on web designing principles was organized on February 17-21 at the Albanian Media Institute, with the participation of journalists from print, electronic, and online media. The main aim of this course was to introduce the journalists to the essential elements that make for a well-designed webpage. The lecturer covered during the course such elements as layout of the webpage, use of color and animation elements, understanding navigation, accessibility to the public, archive building, use of visually attractive elements, reader-friendly methods in navigation, etc.
The main topics of the course included: critique of different sites from the navigator’s point of view; identifying the strengths and limitations of the web medium; explaining the difference between style and design in a webpage; defining the target audience and tailoring content and presentation to the audience needs, polling the audience on the website progress, etc.  The journalists also analyzed several media websites and blogs from the technical point of view. This course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of European Union.

COUNCIL OF EUROPE HOLDS ROUNDTABLE ON DEFAMATION LAW

The Council of Europe (CoE) Office in Tirana, within the regional Project “Promoting freedom of expression and information and freedom of the media in South-East Europe”, organized on February 21 a roundtable on “Defamation Contemporary Case Law, Standards and Best Practices”. Participants in the event discussed the current state of case law on defamation, after the Albanian Assembly amended the penal and civil provisions on defamation in 2012. Attending the roundtable were the Head of the CoE office in Tirana, Marko Leidekker, the Minister for Innovation and Public Administration, Milena Harito, the Norwegian Ambassador to Albania and Kosovo, Jan Braathu, and the Head of the Delegation of the European Union (EU) in Albania, Ambassador Ettore Sequi. In her address, Minister for Innovation and Public Administration Milena Harito noted the progress made by the country in terms of the freedom of media and expression, adding that in some cases things are going to the other extreme, because people think that they can write and say whatever they want without any limit. The Head of the CoE Office in Tirana, Marko Leidekker, pointed to the importance of discussing such issues, especially in view of the 2012 amendments to the defamation provisions. The Head of the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Albania, Ambassador Ettore Sequi acknowledged the progress made by the country in this area, and added that the full decriminalization of defamation was needed for truly free media. Afterwards, Gavin Millar, lawyer with a broad experience in defamation suits against media outlets, provided his own views and background on the main issues on defamation proceedings. Gent Ibrahimi, director of Institute for Policy and Legal Studies, went through the main amendments to the Albanian Penal and Civil Codes on defamation in 2012 and their expected impact on defamation and freedom of expression. The participants discussed several key points related to freedom and expression and brought their own experience in this field.

TRAINING COURSE IN NEW TECHNOLOGIES AND ICT

A training course for journalists on new technologies and Information and Communication Technology was organized at the Albanian Media Institute on February 10-12. Participants included 15 journalists from print, electronic, and online media. The proposed project is based on the high demand and need from the journalists’ community in the area of new communication and information technologies and their impact on journalism. The course aimed to provide Albanian journalists with some advanced concepts of modern use of communication and information technologies in journalism practices. The training course combined knowledge training with journalistic professional skills training. Some of the topics addressed included receiving advanced knowledge on the advantages and novelties in news distribution through smartphones and tablets and the specific nature and techniques of website design for mobile phones.  Ways of increasing web interactivity for mobile phone readers was also discussed with the participants. The course was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of AMC.

NEW PUBLICATION ON HISTORY OF RADIO BROADCASTING LAUNCHED

The latest publication in the field of radio broadcasting, “Dynamics of radio broadcasting in Albania: 1938-2013” by Arben Muka, was launched in a presentation on February 13. Participants included journalists, academicians, and media experts.  The author made a brief presentation of the book content, which follows the development of the radio landscape in the country in 75 years, from the first radio established to the current days, where there is a variety of radio outlets. The book draws a sketch of the profiles of all radios that have broadcast in the country, including those that do no longer exist, marking the evolution trace of this landscape. The publication ranges from detailed analysis of the propagandistic role of Radio Tirana under communism, to the emergence of numerous private radio stations that challenged the hegemony of public radio. Specific attention has been paid to the role of foreign radio stations and to the prospects for the radio landscape in the eve of digital switchover. The local radio stations, their evolution, and the opinions of some of the well-known radio experts in the country have also been covered by the author. The event was organized by Albanian Media Institute.

REGULATOR ORGANIZES CONFERENCE ON DISCRIMINATION IN THE MEDIA

Audiovisual Media Authority (AMA) organized on February 7 the conference on the topic “Media and discrimination.” Participants included journalists and representatives from different institutions, such as People’s Advocate, Commissioner for Personal Data Protection, Commissioner for Protection from Discrimination, Union of Journalists, etc. The aim of the conference was to draw attention to the need to protect from discrimination against vulnerable groups in media coverage. The speakers from different institutions that participated in the conference stressed several violations noticed during monitoring of media coverage and underlined the importance of raising awareness on the need for the media to respect human rights and refrain from discrimination. While emphasizing the important role of the media in informing the public, they also added that efforts to monitor any potential violations in the media should be stepped up. 

SECOND EDITION OF RRATHE COMPETITION

The second edition of “Rrathe,” a competition for young people and aspiring journalists to produce video-documentaries on social issues, was concluded with the award ceremony on February 13. Out of 160 applications, 26 were selected to be produced as video documentaries. The final products aim to combine elements of journalism, social media, and citizen reporting. The competition is in the framework of Soros Open Society Foundation for Albania, aiming to increase media coverage of social issues in the country and build capacities and promote new forms of citizen reporting.


AMI NEWSLETTER - March 2014


DOCUMENTARY MOVIE PROJECTION “PUSSY RIOT: A PUNK PRAYER”

"Pussy Riot: A punk prayer" was the documentary movie that was projected to an audience of journalists, academics, and civil society representatives on March 25. This film looks at the real people behind the now famous group of female artists. Following the bizarre and intricate twists of the trial, the movie observes the three young women fighting back against a justice system that seems impervious to logic. The movie shows what transformed these women from political activists in to modern day icons. Moving from farce to tragedy and back again, the film explores how political and religious forces contrived to make an example out of three young artists who stepped out of line. Mike Lerner, the director of the documentary, was also present at the screening and participated in the discussion that ensued afterwards with the participants. This documentary was projected by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Frontline Club.

MEDIA TALK ON CURRENT AFFAIRS IN UKRAINE

A media talk focusing on current affairs in Ukraine took place on March 12, with the participation of journalists, editors, civil society representatives, and academicians. Key speaker was Alessio Vinci, former correspondent of CNN in Moscow. Some of the key topics addressed included internal economic and political situation in Ukraine as well as a brief look on historical relations with Russia. Specific attention was paid to he developments in Crimea, analyzed in the geopolitical context. The role of other countries involved and the potential for diplomatic agreement and influence was another topic addressed. The speaker discussed with participants also the potential developments in the future in this region and the role of Russia in the current global affairs, too. The media talk was organized by Albanian Media Institute, with the support of Frontline Club.

RULING MAJORITY RETRACTS AMENDMENT TO AUDIOVISUAL MEDIA LAW

The Deputy Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Media, Alfred Peza, of the Socialist Party, withdrew on March 25 his proposed amendment to the Audiovisual Media Law, in a letter sent to the Assembly’s Administration. Peza’s amendment to the said law envisaged the total restructuring of the Audio-visual Media Authority (AMA) Council. However, it remains to be decided whether the current chair of AMA, Endira Bushati, will continue to serve in the council. A memo of the Assembly’s Service for the Oversight of the Independent Institutions concludes that the current term of the chairwoman has expired. According to the memo, Bushati cannot remain Chair, because her term as a member of the AMA Council has already expired. Bushati has opposed this claim, stating that the interpretation is not correct and that her term has not expired yet.

COURSE ON MEDIA LEGISLATION

A training course on media legislation took place at the Albanian Media Institute on March 4-5, with the participation of 15 journalists from mainstream media. The course aimed for journalists to become familiar with the existing legislation regarding various media aspects and the situation of its implementation. The specific aspects tackled were defamation, access to information, and labor relations in the media landscape, viewed in a comparative manner with EU standards in this area. After providing a brief overview of the international standards in access to information, the lecturers focused on the Albanian legal provisions in this area. Special attention was paid to a joint initiative with Justice Initiative to make further amendments to the law on access to information. The participants presented their problems in receiving information from public officials in the course of their work. The participants also became familiar with the main legal provisions regarding defamation as changed in 2012 in the Penal and Civil Codes. The main issues addressed were related to the main defamation court cases and to the changing of mechanism of fines with the new amendments. Finally, the participants discussed the situation of labor relations in the media, referring to the regulation in Labor Code and the respective provisions in audiovisual media legislation. This course was organized by Albanian Media Institute with the support of the European Union.

REGIONAL CONFERENCE ON INDEPENDENCE OF MEDIA REGULATORS 

A regional conference on the indicators for independence of media regulatory bodies, organized by the Council of Europe (CoE), in the framework of the regional Project “Promoting freedom of expression and information and freedom of the media in South-East Europe (SEE)”, took place in Tirana on March 6-7. The conference gathered representatives of the media regulatory bodies, relevant Ministries, parliamentary committees and non-governmental organisations from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Kosovo to discuss indicators for formal and actual independence of regulatory bodies and related challenges. The main speakers addressed the key indicators for formal and de facto independence of regulators, focusing also on specific countries. The participants also shared their own experiences regarding the biggest challenges to independence of regulator, such as legal framework, law implementation, staff rules, accountability, conflict of interest, internal culture of independence, transparency, etc.

REGULATOR’S DECISION SPARKS CONTROVERSY

On March 26 the regulator Audiovisual Media Authority issued a decision on must-carry content, allowing other networks to rebroadcast programs of national TV stations without payment for the viewers. The regulator claimed that this decision was made in view of the failure of commercial TV stations to cover the required territory as stated in their license. The television stations opposed the decision, stating that this decision comes at a time when all these television channels have strongly protested against piracy from cable operators, and added that this is AMA’s second attempt to harm national televisions.

MULTIMEDIA STORYTELLING COURSE

A training course on multimedia storytelling was organized on March 17-21 at the Albanian Media Institute, with the participation of 15 journalists from print, electronic, and online media. The main aim of the course was to teach journalists how to adapt to the new technologies and merge with new media, at least in specific formats. The training course aimed to cover all aspects of multimedia news production; from basic storyboarding to hands-on instruction with hardware and software for production of multimedia stories. Participants also reported on relevant topics of the moment and then constructed a multimedia presentation based on that coverage.

This, and other practical exercises, enabled participants to acquire the main skills they need to produce quality multimedia stories including video recording and editing, photography and audio slideshows, audio recording and editing, voice coaching for narration or stand-ups, Photoshop and web design concepts; producing Adobe Flash Web site packages, etc. The skills learned during the course better prepared journalists to increasing convergence and interactive nature of the media outlets. The course was organized by the Albanian Media Institute, with the support of the European Union.

COURT RULES TO DISMISS FORMER CULTURE MINISTER’S LAWSUIT

The Tirana District Court ruled in favour of Top Channel TV in a lawsuit filed by the former Minister of Culture Ylli Pango, who sought damages amounting to 1 million Euros over an alleged violation of privacy, caused by a secret video shot and aired by Top Channel’s satirical/ investigative show Fiks Fare, in which he appeared as soliciting sexual favours from a young girl in return for employment. This was the second judicial review of this lawsuit by the first instance court after the High Court overturned a previous ruling that imposed a 400,000 Euros fine on the TV broadcaster.

 

 

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