Albanian Government aims to topple Top Channel

Three months before the elections, the government started once again its battle against the biggest media outlet in the country, considering it an enemy due to its realism in...

Three months before the elections, the government started once again its battle against the biggest media outlet in the country, considering it an enemy due to its realism in presenting the facts and critics. The government is using Courts to put Top Channel in difficulties and obstruct its activity.
The goal even this time was to remove Top Channel studios from the “Shqiperia Sot” building, and stop its main programs. This new effort comes after years of political pressures, after the government took the judiciary system under control only to eliminate Top Channel.
Albanian men shout slogans during a protest by journalists and residents against a fine imposed by the government against the Top Channel Television, a media station known to be critical of Prime Minister Sali Berisha’s government, in Tirana July 16, 2007. Orators and human rights groups said the 13 million euro fine was an attempt to shut down Top Channel and called on the government to review the measure. REUTERS/Arben Celi (ALBANIA)

The only goal of these actions, since the beginning, was to put Top Channel in difficulties. They have attempted it through all ways and manners: from trials to financial pressures, so that the most viewed media outlet in Albania will be unable to continue its job and not realize its mission to criticize bad governing.

For many years Top Channel has suffered direct attacks from the government, in their attempts for this TV to change its editorial policy and stop critics against the government, otherwise, according to the government, it should cease to exist. The only purpose of these efforts was to close the TV and break its independence.

Currently, due to this constant attack from the government, some of the best shows in Albania, such as “Portokalli”, “Top Story”, “Top Show”, “Procesi Sportiv” and “E dua vendin tim” might not make it to run. This was helped by a court order, which added another politically influenced decision to the many others, and ordered to close Top Channel’s studios, although the agreement with the Albanian state is until 2025, and Top Channel has always paid the financial obligations.

During these years of legal battles, Top Channel has not only felt the direct political pressure of the government, but also the corruption in the judiciary, which serves not only to politics but also to their financial interests, a known phenomenon that all citizens have felt on their own back. For this reason, the Albanians consider this judiciary system as the most corrupted in all social areas.

For the last four years, Top Channel has asked this judiciary to bring justice on this issue. The then Minister of Economy, Genc Ruli, decided on his last day as Minister to interrupt the agreement with Top Channel and start a new attack with the only purpose to eliminate this media outlet. Minister Ruli referred to a law that allows unilateral interruptions of an agreement, but he said nothing about the terms and conditions of this agreement, which was valid until 2025.

Top Channel not only has respected the agreement rigorously, but also has even surpassed it, turning the former “Shqiperia Sot” exhibition building into a display of future art and culture. Top Channel appealed Minister Ruli’s decision in Court.

Top Channel states that the rights of the former owners will be respected, and Top Channel has been a powerful voice in defending their rights. Top Channel was waiting for the government to implement the law, such as the lease agreement signed with the government for an object where TCH has invested millions of Euros and where Top Channel conducts its activity.

But the government, which has undertaken several attacks against this media, has respected none of these agreements. These attacks would stop only if Top Channel would go under their control, same as any other institution in our country. On this case, Top Channel could have profited some spaces to continue its activity and direct funds from the government, but Top Channel would lose much more. The government should understand that the most important agreement for Top Channel is the one they have made with the Albanians, which has turned them into the biggest and most important TV station in our country; an agreement that Top Channel will never violate. 

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