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'Clinical death': Peza faces criticism for massive purges in RTSH

'Clinical death': Peza faces criticism for massive purges in RTSH


The director of the Albanian Radio-Television, Alfred Peza, did not accept the conclusions of a report of the Office of the Monitoring Service of Institutions in the Parliament on the activity of the RTSH for 2023, while he responded with opposition MPs, calling their criticisms as " fake to us".

Peza, a journalist and media executive who is both a former deputy and secretary of Media Relations for the Socialist Party until September 2021. He was elected director of public television a year ago and has since faced criticism for mass firings from the work of journalists and employees of this institution.

The report on the activity of the institution analyzed by the parliamentary monitoring services shows that RTSH has not implemented any of the 13 recommendations left a year ago by the Assembly, there are problems with dismissals and appointments, as well as a decrease in income or uncertainty in the use of theirs.

"It is established that the income from advertisements, announcements, chronicles, etc., have decreased. In 2022, these revenues accounted for 9% of revenues (217,057 thousand ALL), while in 2023 they constitute 3.4% of the budget (71,995 thousand ALL)," the monitoring report states.

The Assembly says that there is "a very high number of dismissed employees, 142", while it notes that in the same period 155 new employees were recruited in unclear procedures.

"155 appointment decisions have been made, while only 25 announcements for vacant positions have been published on the RTSH official website," the report states.

Referring to the document produced by the administration of the Assembly, the deputy of the Democratic Party, Ina Zhupa, focused her discussion on the dismissal of employees and the management of public funds, for which, she told Peza, she was "in galloping violation".

"You could not escape the political motto, you behaved illegally as you were elected illegally," accused Zhupa.

In response, Peza labeled Zhupa as "fake news lady" and described the findings read by her as "fake news", while he tried to paint a completely different picture of his work at the head of the institution.

He gave a slightly higher figure for employee departures than the one recorded in the report and argued the reasons for these departures as normal or in the service of the institution's performance.

"21 have retired, 89 have resigned, 44 have been dismissed by procedure, 12 have left the workplace, so there are 166 in total," said Peza, adding that 75% of them were voluntary departures. "They were working 2, 3 or 5 jobs and could not cope with the new rules...," he claimed.

According to Peza, people who abused public funds were fired, and the accusations of abuse covered a 34-year period of the previous management of the institution.

"We found in the institution people who had not come to work for a single day and their office had turned into a pigeon cage, in the first sense of the word," he said, while also assuming cases where journalists and operators received their salary for 18 years without having no product in RTSH archives.

"I found it in clinical death, 0.1% audience and infrastructure with red lights and none of the columns of a public media were filled...," he added.

He also described as "fake news" the decline in marketing revenues, claiming that they were "69% higher in the months of March-April compared to March-April last year."

Meanwhile, in the report submitted by KDRTSH to the Assembly, it is accepted that the income from the sale of advertisements fell by 67%, which pushed the government to give more money from taxes.

Regarding the unfair dismissals, Peza cited a court document that there were no final decisions against RTSH, despite the statement of the Chairman of the Governing Council, Leka Bungo, that several trials had been won, which would brought costs to the institution's budget.

"When I told you not to fire people, you didn't listen to me. They won the trials," addressed Bungo-Peza before the commission.

"After the Governing Council was in vain, this one came and saved us," Bungo commented ironically on Peza's statements. At the beginning of the session, Bungo declared that he had voted against the report in the council and that he had many remarks about the transparency of the institution's administration.

During the hearing, Peza got involved in debates with other opposition MPs and called their concerns about the problems in RTSH "lies" and ironized that their criticisms were actually "advertising" for the television.

On the other hand, the chairwoman of the commission, Flutura Açka, alluded to the invalidity of the report submitted to the Assembly.

"There are only 4 firms, out of 10 members of the Governing Council, that are paid with Albanian taxes," she said, calling it unacceptable as a document for the Assembly.

However, Peza argued with Açka, calling the voting in the Governing Council valid, since according to him, 6 members were present at the meeting and 4 of them approved it.

The public broadcaster is in theory a politically independent institution, but the governing board is elected by the parliament, while the executive director is elected by the board.

The current board was chosen mainly by the Socialist Party, while the current director is a former deputy and functionary of the Socialist Party./ BIRN

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