Status: Partly Free
Legal Environment: 16 (of 30)
Political Environment: 16 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 18 (of 30)
Total Score: 50 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)

Covers events that took place between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2008.

  • The constitution guarantees freedom of the press, and the government generally respects it in practice.

  • The media were active and fairly diverse, though there were issues of self-censorship and political or economic pressures placed on journalists.

  • The government of Prime Minister Sali Berisha continued to put selective pressure – including administrative sanctions and verbal attacks – on opposition-oriented media in 2008.

  • In December 2008, the Economy Ministry arbitrarily cancelled a 20-year lease held by the daily Tema for its offices in a state-owned building, exposing the paper to possible eviction. Tema had investigated alleged corruption by government officials, leading Berisha to accuse it of pursuing a political agenda. A car owned by the paper's publisher, Mero Baze, was destroyed by a fire on December 31; Baze claimed the blaze was an arson attack.

  • In September 2008, broadcast regulators imposed a fine of 800,000 lek ($9,700) on television station News 24 for airing an advertisement by a nongovernmental organization (NGO) that derided Berisha's use of public funds to produce progovernment ads. The station was accused of violating a law banning political ads outside campaign periods, though the ad in question aired immediately after a progovernment one.

  • Journalists faced intimidation and assaults from people they covered on at least three occasions in 2008. In one incident in March, an editor with the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, Besar Likmeta, was allegedly assaulted by lawmaker Tom Doshi, whom he was questioning about a fake law degree. In May, a television reporter was threatened and beaten by a judge and the judge's brother after he attempted to interview them about corruption and organized crime. Also that month, a newspaper editor was forced out of the headquarters of the ruling Democratic Party by party supporters.

  • In addition to public television and radio broadcasters, there are dozens of private television stations, radio stations, and print publications, including at least 30 daily newspapers. Media penetration is limited outside urban areas.

  • There are no government restrictions on the internet, which was accessed by 16 percent of the population in 2008. However, s ome Albanian websites were vandalized or otherwise attacked during the year, apparently by hackers opposed to neighboring Kosovo's declaration of independence in February.

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