Mayor Accused of Censoring Albania TV Report

After broadcasting only three episodes, the investigative TV show "Publicus" aired on Vision Plus TV station was scrapped on Sunday, sparking accusations of political censorship.

In its brief lifespan, the show had built up a reputation after exposing the government's lack of preparedness to monitor waste imports into the country - a hot issue in Albania.

The show was abruptly canceled on Sunday, just as it was due to broadcast an investigation into Tirana Mayor Erion Veliaj and the municipality's ties to a recycling plant in the city's Sharra landfill, where a 17-year-old worker died in early August.

The opposition Democratic Party claims the TV show was silenced on the direct orders of Mayor Veliaj.

"Yesterday it was a bad day for freedom of the media, freedom of expression and for democracy in Albania," Democratic Party spokesperson Grida Duma said on Monday.  

"After the TV show announced it would be broadcasting the investigation into Erion Veliaj's role in the illegal enterprise in the Sharre Landfill that evening, Vision Plus cancelled it in a corrupt and abrupt manner," Duma added.

Admitting that the show had been canceled, Genc Dulaku, head of Vision Plus's parent company, Media Vision, denied that they censored it because of the content.

"We had disagreements on administrative issues with the director of the show; he was late in editing it. I told him it was impossible to air it this week and that the show would continue next week, but he decided to leave," Dulaku said, referring to Artan Rama. "I can't censure a show that has not been produced," he added. 

The municipality of Tirana did not respond to a request from BIRN to reply to the allegation.

In a statement issued on Facebook on Sunday,...

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