Media Landscape

The Albanian language press traces its origin in the pre-independence national revival period in the mid-19th century, with periodicals that were published in the diaspora communities to promote Albanian identity when the country’s territory was part of the Ottoman Empire. After independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912, during WWI and later in the period of the republic from 1921 until 1928, when President Ahmet Bej Zogu was declared by the national assembly King Zog I, a number of publications were established and published with varying success. Recognizing the power of the press, King Zog I enacted the first law on the press in 1931, which imposed a series of restrictions on newspapers and publishers. Albania’s first radio station ‘Radio Tirana’ started broadcasts on 28th November 1938, inaugurated by King Zog and Queen Geraldine. The invasion of Albania by Italy in 1939 forced the closure of all existing newspapers, which were replaced by ‘Fashisti,’ [The Fascist] the official publication of the Albanian Fascist Party, first published on May 25th 1939.

Albania was the most isolated country in Eastern Europe under the communist regime of former Stalinist dictator Enver Hoxha from 1945 to 1991. During Hoxha’s nearly half-century grip on power all media were under the control of the Party of Labor and foreign TV broadcasts were routinely jammed.  After the collapse of the regime, Albania became a parliamentary republic, freedom of the press was guaranteed by law, while the country embarked in a tumultuous transition to democracy.

Media Databases

During communism Albania had only one state-owned television station and two daily newspapers, controlled tightly by the communist party or its affiliated trade unions. With the collapse of the regime, the media also embarked on a process of transformation, with new outlets and independent newspapers opening up and private broadcasters being established. What followed was an oversaturated market with dozens of newspapers, magazines and TV stations vying for a share of advertising revenue. 

After years of declining readership with the outburst of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, many Albanian newspapers were closed. Currently in the market there are eight daily newspapers, including a sports newspaper, a weekly business magazine and a number of monthly magazines.  There is no official data on press circulation but according to some reports the country’s best selling newspapers do not have a circulation greater than 5000 copies per day, while most newspapers sell less than 1000 copies. There are several press distribution agencies, but two are the main ones. One of them belongs to the state-owned postal company, while the other to Focus Group, publisher of the daily newspapers Panorama, Panorama Sport and Gazeta Shqiptare.     

The public broadcaster Radio Tirana was launched in 1938 and flourished as a propaganda medium during the communist regime, from 1945 to 1991.  The public broadcaster has 11 radio stations, 3 broadcast in FM waves nationally (Radio Tirana 1, Radio Tirana 2 and Radio Tirana Classic), 4 digital terrestrial frequencies and four local radio stations (Radio Korca, Radio Shkodra, Radio Kukës, Radio Gjirokastra). There are currently three commercial national radio stations broadcasting in Albania and 52 regional commercial ones. Three commercial national stations are Top Albania Radio, Radio Club FM and Radio Klan. The number of regional radio stations includes three that rebroadcast foreign radio stations: Radio BBC, Radio RFI and Radio China International, CRI. In this list are also four community radio stations linked to religious organizations: Radio Spektrum/The Muslim Community; Radio Dodona: Bektashti Order; Radio Maria/ Radio Maria Foundation and Radio Ngjallja/ The Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Albania. 

In Albania there are currently four national TV broadcasters, one public and three commercial broadcasters.  The public service media includes 16 regional and thematic TV channels. There are also 37 local television stations and 21 cable/IPTV/OTT channels. The digital switchover and distribution of seven digital terrestrial frequencies was completed in 2020 by the Albanian Media Authority, AMA.  Two of the frequencies were granted to the public broadcaster RTSH while five other licenses were distributed to the commercial broadcasters Top Channel, Klan TV, Digitalb, Media Vizion, and ADTN. According to AMA, in Albania there were also 62 cable networks, one IPTV, 14 OTT and one VOD provider.  There were also two satellite broadcasting networks, Digitalb and Tring TV. 

Social media platforms are the medium of choice for Albanians to get their news, leaving behind television and online media outlets. According to a survey on media consumption published by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Albania in July 2023, 82 percent of respondents used social media as a source to get news and information on social, political, economic and similar local and global events every day or almost every day. The use of social media as a source for news and information was higher among the urban population, the employed population and women vs men.  There are an estimated 900 digital native online media outlets in Albania, often referred to locally as news portals. However, most of the online media, with few exceptions, lack financial resources, have small newsrooms and weak editorial structures. 

There is no public data available on the size of the advertising market in Albania, either for print, broadcast and online. Data on the spending of political parties for campaign ads during elections suggest that television is the biggest market, followed by social media platforms.  

Albania was ranked in the 96th place out of 180 countries in Reporters without Borders “Freedom of the Press Index” for 2023. This represents an improvement in the ranking from 2022, when Albania was ranked 103. According to RSF Albanian media are influenced by the owners’ economic and political interests, the appointments to public media and regulators are politicized, while journalists critical to the government are subject to political attacks and smear campaigns.    

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