On the eve of the launch of the new 2019-20 television season, the news of the simultaneous closure of the programs "Të paekspozuarit" di Ylli Rakipi e "Krasta / A Show" di Adi Krasta it was followed by a storm of reactions on social media and new concerns about the situation of media freedom in Albania.
Both programs, which have never concealed criticism of Prime Minister Edi Rama, have been broadcast on the same news channel for a year News 24 owned by the publisher Irfan Hysenbelliu.
The complaints of Ylli Rakipi
Journalist Ylli Rakipi blames the government for closing his show, publisher Irfan Hysenbelliu denies pressuring anyone, while Prime Minister Edi Rama declares the whole affair a fake news and warns of new lawsuits in court as it believes its public image has been harmed.
Rakipi's accusations are heavy: according to his version, Rama would have closed the program by terminating the contract with News 24, not without having exerted strong pressure on government officials, to whom he was ordered not to participate in the transmission even if formally invited to discuss current political issues.
"Të paekspozuarit", which saw critics Fatos Lubonja and Andi Bushati as permanent guests, reported in December 2018 the scandal of the abuse of office in one of the tenders for theUnaza and Re (the great ring road) in Tirana, for which the Prosecutor of the Albanian Republic has launched an investigation (read "Threats for journalist Ylli Rakipi" )
The complaints of Adi Krasta
Even the journalist Adi Krasta is known for his strong public positions against Rama brand governance.
One of his 2013 monologues, broadcast on Agon Channel, about the spread of digital frequencies caused a lot of nervousness for Prime Minister Rama.
Subsequently, Krasta was not allowed to continue the second season of the "E Diell" program on Top Channel. His fault? Yet another monologue in which Rama was accused of 'recruiting young people to be unleashed online against government opponents.
The defense of Hysenbelliu
The President of 'Focus Group' Irfan Hysenbelliu rejected the rumors that the closure is due to government pressure and motivated the whole with 'changes of programming' of the television network.
As for the show "Krasta / A Show", Hysenbelliu said that Adi Krasta had been offered another TV space over the weekend and that "it was up to him to choose".
The 'anti-slander package'
The closure of two critical programs with the government has been widely commented on social media.
It casts a shadow over the state of freedom of the media in Albania, which, according to the Index of 'Reporter without borders', saw a sharp decline of seven positions in the 2019.
Nor has the growing concerns, addressed to Prime Minister Edi Rama, go unnoticed regarding the offensive and disparaging language used against journalists who dare to criticize him and, more recently, for his efforts to approve a package of laws that regulate online media.
The government has called them "anti-slander package", but local and foreign media consider them as draconian laws and in violation of international standards and have invited Prime Minister Rama to withdraw them.
The bills are currently on Parliament's agenda and the Prime Minister is determined to approve them.