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News 26 Sep 17

Albania Updates Broadcast Code to Protect Children's Rights

Abania is making changes to its broadcasting code to ensure that the media do not abuse children's rights in the name of keeping the public informed.

Fatjona Mejdini
BIRN
Tirana
Illustrative picture by Pixabay

Albania is improving its broadcasting code for radio and television to give children better protection, as they are the first ones to suffer damage when the media breaches ethical codes.

The need to ensure the media protect children's rights and personal data has resulted in several changes to the broadcasting code, which defines the principles and requirements of the audiovisual media in Albania.

The Audiovisual Media Authority in Albania, AMA, the authority enforcing the code, in mid-September opened discussions with stakeholders. Adoption of the first draft is due in mid-October.

While the broadcasting code has been in force since 2014, loopholes have since been identified when it comes to measures against operators that violate ethical standards.

A report of the Complaints Commission, a structure within AMA, in December 2016, emphasised that ethical breaches are present especially in the audiovisual media, where the violation of children's right is the most widespread and concerning aspect.

"Since April [2016] 20 complaints have been addressed to the AMA. Ten of these focused on the issue of children's rights in audiovisual transmissions," the report noted.

It emphasises that in the name of informing the public, the media have sometimes violated principles and ethical normal norms, that have then impacted negatively on children, sometimes even causing them post-traumatic stress.

As a result, amendments submitted by organisations that protect children have been taken into consideration and are now reflected in the new draft.

The chairman of the Complaints Commission in the AMA, Monika Stafa, told BIRN that the initiative followed complaints from the public and from organisations.

"The reviews came about as a legal need to reflect audiovisual developments and as well to better respect human rights, especially when it comes children," she said.

Elma Tershana, director of the Observatory for Children's Rights, told BIRN that two of their proposals for better children's protection had been taken into consideration and included in the draft.

"One issue we raised was the need to improve the aspects related to interviewing children," she said.

As result, an article seeking children's, parents' or legal caretakers' consent where their images or footage are broadcast has been included in the broadcasting code.

Another article allows the interviewing of the children where parents do not give their consent – but only if it is in the children's best interest. In this case, the journalist should be accompanied by a psychologist, social worker or teacher.

Tershana said the AMA had agreed also on enforcing an hourly television content rating system, where movies and programs are shown that are not appropriate for children.

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