Media outlets in Albania are mostly privately owned with the exception of the public broadcaster RTSH. Most media outlets are under the ownership of handful of powerful families, while the rest is closely associated with businessmen that operate in heavily regulated markets, mainly construction and real estate development, for profit higher education, banking or gambling. Audience concentration in print, television and radio ranges from medium to high; however, audience data provided by the two main research agencies Abacus and Telemetrix are conflicting and disputed by market actors - which translate into a high risk indicator for concentration.
When it comes to print, the results of the audience calculations based on data provided by the agency Abacus show that the risk of audience concentration within the print market is medium, with the four biggest players reaching an audience of 43.29%.
In the electronic media the ownership concentration is higher than in print, with data from the country’s two research agencies, Abacus and Telemetrix, suggested that concertation is medium to high. According to the data provided by Abacus research the TV market has a medium concentration with four major owners reaching an audience of 48.47%. Data from Telemetrix however show a high concentration in television market with four major owners reaching an audience of 58.60%.
Audience data from Abacus shows that the risk of audience concentration within the radio market in Albania is high with the four biggest players reaching an audience of at least 63.96% with only their informative radio stations.
For many years the myth about the Albanian media has been that despite its shortcomings the many outlets in a small market would guarantee a plurality of views to local readers and audiences. However, MOM’s research shows that despite the high number of outlets only a handful of owners command the attention of the audiences, in print, television and radio – which marks a high risk to media pluralism. The majority of these influential owners have related interests in heavily regulated business fields, like construction, oil refining, 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 interests, forces many journalists to resort to self-censorship, turning many outlets into networks that distribute government propaganda and disinformation campaigns.