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News 06 Jun 13

Albania Journalists Protest Over Election Tapes

A dozen journalists protested on Thursday against a decision of the Central Electoral Commission, CEC, obliging TV stations to transmit tapes of campaign events, calling it a form of censorship.

Besar Likmeta
BIRN
Tirana

Reporters and editors gathered in front of ruling Democratic Party and opposition Socialist Party headquarters as well as in front of the Central Electoral Commission, CEC, holding up slogans condemning the decision.

“We view this decision with concern because the practice of [airing prepackaged campaign] tapes means censorship," Aleksander Cipa, head of the Union of Albanian Journalists, said.

Pre-packaged tapes of political events in Albania have been around for almost a decade but they have taken on a more prominent role in the last two election campaigns.

Editors increasingly feel under pressure to air them and not provide independent coverage of campaign events. 

Albania was ranked in 102nd position out of 173 countries in the 2013 Reporters without Borders “Freedom of the Press Index”.

This rating represents a significant downgrade from 2003, when Albania ranked 34 and was the best performer in the Western Balkans.

The union has called on the media to disregard the decision and urged TV stations to transmit blacked out screens during Friday’s news editions as a protest gesture.

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