Albanian election code, agreed by the participants during the Seminar on media and elections organised by the Council of Europe and the Albanian Media Institute together with the OSCE Presence in Albania and the Central Elections Commission in Tirana, May 31, 2005.
Aware of the important role and specific responsibilities of the media in modern and democratic societies;
Considering the significant role of the media as a means of providing information and stimulating political debate;
Stressing that the media can better fulfil their role and respond to their responsibilities under conditions where their editorial independence is fully respected;
Acknowledging that the observance by the Albanian media of fairness and balance in the coverage of election campaigns is an important factor in the conduct of democratic elections in Albania;
Aware of the need to take account of the differences between print and electronic media;
Concerned with fulfilling their role in connection with the various aspects of the coverage of election campaigns such as reporting, offering media access to parties and candidates, the dissemination of opinion polls, and paid political advertising;
Recognizing the significance of agreeing on a set of rules to guide the media’s behaviour as a means of self-regulation;
Agree to implement this Code of Conduct which sets out guidelines for good practice and responsible, accurate and fair coverage of election campaigns in full compliance with international standards, in particular Council of Europe Recommendation No.R(99) 15 on measures concerning media coverage of election campaigns, and the Albanian legislation, in particular the Electoral Code, the Law on Public and Private Radio and Television and the Law on Print Media, as follows:
The media will uphold their editorial independence and will not allow any interference by public authorities, groups or individuals, aimed at influencing their work and/or curtailing media freedoms and the right to free expression.
The media will:
– Disseminate information to contribute to voter education on the various aspects of the election process
– Report on the activities related to election campaigns in compliance with the Albanian Electoral Code and the rules of the Central Elections Commission of Albania
No media will be allowed to request or receive payment of any kind from a political party or other legal or natural person in return for access to airtime or space, except in the case of paid political advertising as provided for in the Albanian Electoral Code.
When publishing the results of opinion polls, the media will provide the public with the necessary information to assess the value of polls, as provided in Article 134 of the Albanian Electoral Code.
The print media will enjoy full editorial independence and the right to express their political preferences.
Print media that accepts paid political advertising will ensure that such advertising is properly identified. They will allow access to space on an equal basis and in a transparent manner.
Both public and private electronic media will endeavour to cover election campaigns in a fair, balanced and impartial manner, in line with Articles 136 – 141 of the Albanian Electoral Code. They will treat political parties and candidates in an equal and fair manner and without discrimination, with the ultimate aim of informing the voters about the programmes and activities of the political parties.
The electronic media has a duty to provide equal and fair access to airtime for political parties. Such access to airtime need not be measured on a daily or programme-by-programme basis, but must be achieved over longer periods and over the course of the election campaign.
The electronic media will deal with statements and activities by government officials and public authorities with caution, taking care not to give them privileged treatment in news and current affairs programmes.
The electronic media will pay special attention to programmes other than news and current affairs, which may affect the election campaign and therefore may influence voters.
In implementing the rules for equal treatment of political parties and candidates, the electronic media will:
– Ensure that addressing invitations to political parties to participate in programmes is done in conformity with the principles of equality and fairness as stated in the Albanian Electoral Code. No privileged treatment, no form of discrimination against or exclusion of any candidate or party will be allowed.
– Treat candidates who are contesting a constituency equally and with no discrimination, when dealing with issues relating to the said constituency.
– Not report or comment on activities, events, statements and press releases of parties and candidates in a way that distorts their substance and/or meaning.
– The electronic media will prepare their schedule of programmes according to the principles set out in this Code and make these schedules public before the start of election campaigns. The planning of certain programmes, such as debates, interviews etc., may be the product of consultations with political parties.
This Code of Conduct is in full compliance with Albanian electoral legislation. If this Code conflicts with any legal provisions, the law prevails.