Media outlets in Albania are mostly privately owned with the exception of the public broadcaster RTSH. Most media outlets are under the ownership of a handful of powerful families, while the rest are closely associated with businessmen that operate in heavily regulated markets, mainly construction and real estate development, information technology, banking or gambling. Audience concentration television is rated as high; however, audience data is provided by a single research agency, which is disputed by market actors. There is no data available on the readership/audience of print, online and radio, which translate into a high risk indicator for concentration.
When it comes to print, businessman Irfan Hysenbelliu – whose financial interests range from construction and tourism to trade, wineries, for profit higher education and breweries – is the key player with control over the Panorama Group and Focus Media Group. Panorama Group is the publisher of Albania’s most popular daily newspaper Panorama, the sports daily Panorama Spot and the monthly magazine Psikologjia. Meanwhile the Focus Media Group publishes the daily newspaper Gazeta Shqiptare. The two media groups controlled by Hysenbelliu own two of the most visited websites in the country Balkanweb.com and Panorama.com.al, as well as the 24 hour news television station News 24 and radio RASH. Another prominent print outlet is the daily newspaper Dita – controlled by the Dabulla brothers whose main activity is centered in the gambling business. The fourth most influential publisher in the print market is the weekly business magazine Monitor, which is controlled by the Leka brothers, owners of Union Bank.
In the broadcast media market the ownership concentration is also high , with the four families, Frangaj, Hoxha, Bollino and Hysenbelliu controlling the main national and regional TV outlets. Audience distribution modeled with data from Idra Media suggests that concentration is high, with four major owners reaching an audience of 86.94%.
The lack of data agencies that measure audiences/readership for radio, online and print hampers a proper evaluation of the market control and automatically rates it as high risk. The data of the only agency that carries measurement in the TV market is also disputed by television stations, which also translates into a high risk indicator for concentration. However, the market structure remains the same, with the majority of popular outlets concentrated in the hands of a handful of families and owners.
The majority of these influential owners have related interests in heavily regulated business fields, like construction, public procurement, gambling, for profit higher education and banking, which makes them susceptible to pressure from the ruling elites and often influences the editorial line of the outlets they control. Such undue influence on the media, which changes based on owners' political and economic interest, forces many journalists to resort to self-censorship, turning many outlets simply into networks that distribute government propaganda and disinformation campaigns from vested interests.