Radio Tirana 1
Radio Tirana was the first outlet to be founded by the public media group, Radio Televizioni Shqiptar, RTSH [The Albanian Radio Television]. The radio station began broadcasting on November 28, 1938 and the first words uttered on the air, according to the official history posted on the website of Radio Tirana, were ‘Ju flet Tirana” [This is Tirana calling], which continues to be used to this day as a slogan.
The first director of Radio Tirana was Gjergj Bubani. The radio initially broadcast folk music. Bubani, who earlier had been part of the Albanian press core in the diaspora and the efforts to strengthen the Albanian state, was an opponent of the fascist invasion. On the day of the invasion through radio Tirana calls for massive protests were made and Bubani rejected the Italian request to change the programing of the radio station. Despite his opposition, first the Italians and later the Nazi forces that invaded Albania in 1943, used the radio station as a propaganda tool.
The radio station was taken over from the partisan National Liberation Army from the occupying German forces on November 17th 1944, which was later marked by the communist government as a historic day. Albania’s most prominent writer Ismail Kadare, wrote a novel about the takeover of the radio station. After occupying the station, the partisan forces arrested Gjergj Bubani, who survived execution only based on testimony that he had supported the liberation cause. Bubani was otherwise condemned to 15 years of prison and served 5 years of hard labor working to dry the Maliq lagoon.
After the communist took over the country in 1945, Radio Tirana became a propaganda tool and transmitted in several foreign languages. An attempt to a more liberal approach came in the seventies, when foreign music, including the ‘Beatles’ were transmitted. However, the leaders of this liberal movement were purged after the 11th Festival of Song on Radio and Television in December 1972. Directors of the radio station, composers and singers were arrested and their families sent to internment camps.
After the collapse of communism in the early 90’ the radio station came under the political influence of the new post-communist leadership headed by the Democratic Party, which also used it politically. Today the radio station has little use as a propaganda tool. Political interference at RTSH is mainly targeted at the public TV station, TVSH. However, differently from the TVSH, Radio Tirana continues to be one of the most important radio stations in the country, mainly due to its shows, like the sports show ‘From one match to the other,’ which marks its 40th anniversary.
As part of RTSH [Albania Radio Television] broadcasters, Radio Tirana is headed by the general director of RTSH and its Supervisory Council. This came with the latest structural changes in 2016 when management of Radio and Television stations were merged. The radio station is financed through a tariff collected by RTSH and financial allocations are made by the general director of RTSH.
In their FOI for MOM, RTSH stated that they have an increase in audience of 5-6% over the past year, but it is not clear if this also includes Radio Tirana which is not treated as a separate entity. They also note that audience measurements by independent monitors are biased. According to RTSH they reach the highest number of viewers during the broadcast of football matches involving the National Team which also are transmitted through Radio Tirana.
The leadership of RTSH has also been accused of corruption and abuse of office for squandering the funds at its disposal; however, nobody from its management has been charged or convicted of such crimes. Some audits of the High State Auditing office have raised suspicions over poor financial management.
RTSH content is regulated by law and overseen by the Supervisory Council of RTSH (KDRTSH), a collegial body elected by the parliament. The public broadcaster has a statute and regulations that guide its content and also several boards for content monitoring, which should represent interests of the Albanian society. However, despite the council and the regulations, RTSH is perceived to be under the influence of the ruling party.
Media Companies / Groups
The Albanian Radio Television (RTSH)
The Albanian Radio Television (RTSH) is a nonprofit institution, registered as legal public entity under the control of the Albanian Parliament
The legal framework foresees the control of parliament over the public broadcast through the selection of the members of the Supervisory Council, where six members are selected by the ruling majority and 5 from the opposition. Even though the recruitment should not be politicized, the selection of the last directors showed that the Supervisory Council was split among party lines. The failure of the council to select a new director for almost three years, as the law required a qualified majority vote, pushed the ruling socialists to amend the Audiovisual Media Law. The new election of the latest director, Thoma Gëllçi, was contested by the opposition party.
Group / Individual Owner
The Republic of Albania
The Albanian public finances the RTSH through direct tax, levied with the electricity bill, and from the state budget.
Affiliated Interests Founder
The Kingdom of Albania – Radio Tirana was founded by the Kingdom of Albania. In the few months of its existence before Albania was invaded by fascist Italy in 1939, the radio stations transmitted mainly music and education programs. The radio first transmitted using gramophone discs donated by citizenry.
Affiliated Interests Ceo
Thoma Gëllçi – has a long career in the Albanian media. He started his career as a journalist during the communist regime in the satirical magazine ‘Hosteni’ and after in ‘Zeri i Popullit’- the daily newspaper of the communist party, which later transformed itself into the Socialist Party, where Gellci served for some time as editor in chief. Gëllçi has held a series of senior posts in the public administration and also worked as a spokesperson in 2001 for Prime Minister Ilir Meta, now Albania’s president. The close relationship of Gellci with the socialists has made him persona non-grata to the right-wing Democratic Party, which contested his election as the director of Albania’s public television. Gëllçi was voted to the post by the board (KDRTSH) of directors with 7 out of 11 votes of the supervisory council, a collegial body where the members are selected by the ruling majority and the opposition.
Affiliated Interests Editor-In-Chief
Bledar Zaganjori – is a well-known journalist in Albania. He took over the position of Director of News at RTSH, including Radio, in July 2016, after leaving Top Channel TV. Zaganjori has previously served as the editor in chief of the daily newspaper Shqip and later as director of news and information at Top Channel TV. There were speculations that his appointment as news director at RTSH was spearheaded by Prime Minister Edi Rama. Zaganjori led Top Channel’s news division when the TV station was perceived as supporting Rama’s policies.
Affiliated Interests other important people
Martin Leka – is deputy director of RTSH. After the departure of the Director General Petrit Beci, Leka directed RTSH in the absence of the director for 3 years. Leka has been a journalist since the early 1990's.
Rezart Aga – transferred from Top Channel to RTSH immediately after the appointment of the new General Director. Aga occupies the post of Programme Director and is responsible for the end-of-year music contest known as “Festivali i Këngës”, one of the main shows at RTSH.
Rruga Ismail Qemali № 11, Tirana
Tel: +355(4) 2223911
Revenue (in Mill. $)
Operating Profit (in Mill. $)
Advertising (in % of total funding)
The information on the company and its financial statements, were obtained from reports published by RTSH on its official website and the response RTSH provided after a MOM FOI request. RTSH has the highest budget and market share, but most of its revenues come from a direct tax. There is no separate financial report for each of its components including Radio Tirana