News 05 Jun 13

Albania Journalists Pan Campaign ‘Censorship”

The Union of Journalists has criticised a decision of the Central Electoral Commission, CEC, which obliges TV stations to transmit tapes of campaign events, calling it a return to censorship.

Besar Likmeta
BIRN
Tirana

“We consider this decision a great offence, which repeats the practice of imposing political party tapes as coverage of the electoral campaign,” the union said in a statement.

“The approval of this practice offends every Albanian editor, because... it deforms the free and independent coverage of the elections,” it added.

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, with editors increasingly feeling under pressure to air them and not provide independent coverage of campaign events. 

The ruling comes from the Media Monitoring Board, a commission comprised of representatives of both ruling and opposition parties. It controls the airtime allocated by broadcasters in the 30-day election campaign period.

The union called on media to disregard the decision and refuse to broadcast tapes and DVDs of campaign events packaged by political parties.

“There is a vital need for reporters to be on the ground, because tapes coming from political parties are a symbol of censorship,” it said.

Albanians go to the polls on June 23. The two main blocs competing for power are the Alliance for a European Albania,  a coalition led by the opposition Socialists, and the Alliance for Employment, Prosperity and Integration, led by the ruling Democratic Party.

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