16 Jul 2020 Lvl. 2
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Alert created on: 19 May 2020 n° 59/2020 Albania

Heavy Fines and Shutdown Threat against Albanian TV Channel

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
Partner ECPMF Article 19 AEJ
Partner ECPMF Article 19 AEJ
On 14 May 2020 the National Health Inspectorate (ISHSH) fined private TV channel RTV Ora News 1,000,000 Albanian Leke (approx. €8,000) for violating social distancing rules over the allegation that anchor and journalist Artur Zheji had invited three guests to Monday evening’s primetime programme “360°” instead of one guest allowed under the rules. On 15 May 2020 RTV was notified another fine of 1,000,000 Leke on the same grounds as anchor and journalist Sonila Meco had invited two guests to the programme “Tempora”. RTV has 30 days to appeal the decisions.

In addition to the fines, the ISHSH recommended that RTV transmissions be suspended, a recommendation rejected by Albania's Audiovisual Media Authority (AMA) in a 15 May 2020 statement. Health authorities have been granted enhanced powers under emergency legislation in force until 23 June 2020.

Media freedom organisations have disapproved the measures as an attempt to restrict the work of a TV channel whose output has shown criticism of Prime Minister Edi Rama and the government.
Updates
26 May 2020
On 20 May 2020, upon appeal filed by RTV Ora, the ISHSH withdrew the decisions to fine RTV Ora, given that the broadcaster had corrected any violations of the rules.
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