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Back to Top Albania Partly Free LE: 17 PE: 16 EE: 17 Total: 50 The legal system protects freedom of the press, and it is generally respected by the authorities.

Press freedom advocates in 2006 continued to urge the government to decriminalize defamation, which could incur a maximum sentence of two years in prison under existing statutes.

Albania has 66 private television stations, at least 45 private radio stations, and roughly 200 print publications in circulation.

Many independent media outlets are hampered by a lack of revenue.

Nasab was released in December, but the case is considered to have had a chilling effect on press freedom, with an accompanying rise in self-censorship.

Religious conservatives also targeted the progressive Tolo TV, which had been criticized by clerics for airing programs that "oppose Islam and national values." In May, a popular female television presenter who had worked at Tolo was murdered, possibly by family members who did not approve job, and other program hosts received threats or were forced off the air, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Although registration requirements remain in place, authorities have granted more than 250 publications licenses, and several dozen private radio stations and eight television stations are now broadcasting, with the expansion of independent print and broadcast outlets continuing in 2005.

National and local governments continue to own or control several dozen newspapers and almost all of the electronic media, and reporting at these news outlets is generally balanced.

Article 34 of the new constitution, passed in January 2004, provides for freedom of the press and of expression.The plan came as part of a deal allowing municipal elections to proceed in early 2007.Independent media continued to be active and were generally able to criticize the government.The countrys parliament-appointed broadcast regulator, the National Council of Radio and Television (NCRT), continued to face accusations of political influence and incompetence.However, Berisha and Tirana Mayor Edi Rama, leader of the opposition Socialist Party, agreed in August to add two opposition appointees to the councils membership.

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