Thursday, June 24, 2010

NGO slams fine of Albania TV for video of official


TIRANA, Albania — A media organization has condemned as exorbitant the euro400,000 ($491,000) fine imposed on an Albanian TV station that aired video of a government officials asking a job applicant to take her clothes off.

The court found Top Channel TV station liable for damages because the video, showing Culture, Youth, Tourism and Sports Minister Ylli Pango asking a woman to strip to see whether she would be good for the job, had been obtained illegally.

Pango was fired immediately. He sued the station.

The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organization on Wednesday condemned the "exorbitant fine" as violating the "goal of providing information that is in the public interest."
Paris-based Reporters Without Borders also condemned "the unprecedented damages award."
"Blatant abuse of authority by a government minister is a subject of public interest and the press must be free to cover it.... This decision is unacceptable and constitutes a serious violation of media freedom," it said.

Albania's fledgling independent press frequently complains of politically motivated attacks.

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