On the public broadcaster’s annual report to the Albanian Assembly

Source/Author: SJ
Source/Photo: SJ

The public broadcaster’s annual report presentation to the Parliamentary Committee for Education and Public Information Media on June 24, 2024, was met with significant criticism from opposition MPs. They alleged non-implementation of previous parliamentary recommendations and raised concerns about personnel management and financial transparency at RTSH (Albanian Radio and Television).

RTSH Director General Alfred Peza refuted these allegations, characterizing them as “fake news”. He asserted that 75% of the 166 recent staff departures were voluntary, providing a breakdown: 21 retirements, 89 resignations, 44 procedural removals, and 12 job abandonments.

However, official data from the Labour State Inspectorate presents a contrasting narrative. In response to a freedom of information request, the Inspectorate disclosed that it has received six complaints of unlawful dismissal from RTSH staff since June 2023. Subsequent inspections resulted in formal warnings issued to RTSH for violations of labor and social insurance legislation.

In the past year, more than 30 journalists and media staff come forward to denounce the lack of due process in staff dismissals from RTSH. This surge in complaints suggests a broader pattern of potential labor violations within the public broadcaster. A special hearing with dismissed media professionals and journalists was organized on 17th May with MP Ina Zhupa to discuss the issue.

These findings corroborate concerns previously raised by the Safe Journalists Network (SJN), which has documented reports from journalists claiming dismissal without due process. It is noteworthy that SJN’s formal letter of concern to RTSH regarding these allegations remains unanswered, raising questions about the broadcaster’s transparency and willingness to address these issues.

This situation highlights the importance of ensuring proper oversight and adherence to labor laws within Albania’s public broadcasting sector, as well as the need for open dialogue and transparency in addressing these critical issues. Reforming the public broadcaster must be done in full compliance with the law and with transparency. Given the gravity of these concerns, there is a growing call for increased parliamentary oversight of RTSH. The parliamentary committee responsible for media affairs should consider establishing a task force dedicated to investigating these allegations and monitoring RTSH’s compliance with labor laws and parliamentary recommendations. This enhanced oversight mechanism could help ensure greater accountability and transparency in the operations of Albania’s public broadcaster, safeguarding both the rights of media professionals and the integrity of public media services.