Media ownership in Albania reflects the country’s tumultuous transition to democracy after the collapse of the autocratic rule of the communist party in 1991. During the communist regime the media was virtually a propaganda tool at the hands of the regime, which served to reinforce the cult of personality of late Dictator Enver Hoxha, who ruled Albania with an iron fist for nearly half a century – from 1945 until his death in 1985.
Although with the collapse of the regime the monopoly over the media of the communist party ended, the new commercial outlets that were founded in the last two decades continued to be used as propaganda and disinformation tools, serving the political and financial interests of the new economic and political elite.
The protracted and difficult transition to democracy - defined by high levels of corruption and the lack of rule of law, have created a media market that at first sight looks diverse and plural, but behind the scenes is under the control of a handful of families, who maintain close ties to political parties and often rank in benefits in the form of public tenders, tax favoritism or construction permits.
Following two decades of domination television is not anymore the primary source of information for the average Albanian, after being replaced from the internet and social media. The print sector that dominated the decade after the collapse of communism, is languishing in its death bed – as a result of the technological challenge brought by the internet, lack of investment, falling advertising revenues and generally a poor output that has turned readers away from newspapers and magazines. Radio, with the exception of Radio Tirana has mostly been an entertainment medium in Albania, which despite its audience share it has little influence as an information source. However, some radio stations and audio producers are experimenting with the podcast format.
The internet and primarily social media networks like Facebook and Instagram have become the main conduit through which Albanians get their information. The advent of social media has brought opportunities and challenges to the information space, including the increased threat from disinformation, the impact of algorithms on news distributions and pressure from the government to regulate media content. Bypassing journalists and media outlets, politicians and influences are increasingly using social media to directly communicate with audiences, churning state-sponsored propaganda on platforms and posts controlled by vested interests, which are amplified through inauthentic behavior generated by human bot farms or advertising.