ALBANIA: Government economic pressure on the media - Albania

ALBANIA, 18/07/2007

To:

Jozefina Topalli 

Speaker of the Albanian Parliament 

Jozefina Topalli 

Speaker of the Albanian Parliament 

Bul. "Deshmoret E Kombit" Nr.4 

Tirana
Albania

Fax: +355 4 221764  

Your Excellency,

The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists from South East Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), is alarmed about the recent media freedom situation in Albania, following the escalation of government economic pressure on the media.

According to information before SEEMO, Albanian tax officials have imposed a 12 million euro fine on the holdings of Top Media, owner of Albanians most popular TV station "Top Channel" for unpaid tax. SEEMO believes that any fine handed down to the media should be proportionate and should not be designed to punish the media, harm its commercial viability or drive it into insolvency. 

Albanian media organisations and SEEMO are respectful of the rule of law and believe that the government is using the taxation authorities as an instrument to attack media independence. The fact that the fine is applied against a media organisation, which has criticized the government, leads us to believe that the government is attempting to intimidate the Albanian media. 

SEEMO believes that in Albania economic pressure is one of the main ways of undermining the media. With this in mind, SEEMO calls on the government to do everything possible to invalidate the fine. SEEMO also appeals to the government to allow the media to work independently and to create a legal framework for the mass media in Albania.

We thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

Oliver Vujovic

SEEMO Secretary General

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