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The pact, which capped more than two years of negotiations, was considered a key milestone on the path to EU membership, and EU officials said media freedom would be among their priorities as they pressed Albania to make additional structural improvements.The countrys parliament-appointed broadcast regulator, the National Council of Radio and Television (NCRT), continued to face accusations of political influence and incompetence.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.International radio broadcasts in Dari or Pashto, such the BBC, VOA, Radio Liberty, and Radio Free Afghanistan, remain a key source of information for many Afghans.In the country's underdeveloped economic environment, the majority of media outlets remain dependent on the state, political parties, or international donors for financial support.
Coverage by state-owned broadcasters had favored the incumbents in the run-up to July 2005 elections, and at least four cases of violence against journalists were reported that year, but the country largely avoided a repeat of such problems in 2006.
In a high-profile case that was criticized extensively by both local and western groups, Ali Mohaqiq Nasab, editor of the monthly women's rights magazine Haqooq-i-Zan, was ordered arrested by the high court for publishing articles deemed to be "anti-Islamic." Despite the fact that the government-appointed Media Commission cleared him of blasphemy charges, he was sentenced by the high court to two years' imprisonment in October and also faced the threat of a court-issued fatwa that could have increased his sentence.
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.
Article 34 of the new constitution, passed in January 2004, provides for freedom of the press and of expression.
The May 2004 press law guarantees the right of citizens to obtain information and prohibits censorship.
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The media played a prominent role in at least two new incidents that proved embarrassing to the government.