OSCE Representative urges progress on public service broadcasting reform and safeguarding media pluralism in Albania

OSCE Representative urges progress on public service broadcasting reform and safeguarding media pluralism in Albania

Tirana, 12 May 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency

Ending a two-day visit to Tirana, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today stressed the need to use the current momentum for public service broadcaster reform in Albania. During the visit she also addressed media pluralism and media concentration, especially during the process of digitalization, independence of the broadcast regulator, journalists’ labour rights and Internet freedom.

“Like many other OSCE participating States, Albania would benefit from a higher degree of media independence,” Mijatović said. “Politicians and business owners should stop manipulating media and institutions such as AMA, and let journalists and professionals do their job professionally and independently for the benefit of the Albanian public.”

Mijatović emphasized the importance of strengthening the public service broadcaster and its independence.

“The newly established steering board should now use the positive developments by appointing a director and moving ahead with much needed structural reforms to strengthen the functioning and independence of the public service broadcaster,” Mijatović said.

In her meetings with senior government officials, the Representative also raised her concern about the proposal to delete the article 62 in the Law on Audio-visual media services regulating media concentration, and amendments to the civil code that would make website owners legally responsible for online comments.

“The proposal to amend the Audiovisual law could have a very long-term and negative effect on media pluralism, especially in the context of the forthcoming digital licensing process,” Mijatović said.

In her meetings with journalists and members of civil society, Mijatović discussed the implementation of the Law on Access to Information, and labour rights of journalists. She also noted the Union of Albanian Journalists’ recent report on social and economic issues faced by the journalists.

”Access to official information and ensuring their labour rights allow journalists to perform their duty as public watchdogs to ensure that authorities at all levels are accountable,” Mijatović said. /ibna/