In one of several cases, two reporters working for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty were arrested in July by intelligence services in Konar province and were detained for a week without charge.Many practice self-censorship or avoid writing about sensitive issues such as Islam, national unity, or crimes committed by specific warlords.Independent media continued to be active and were generally able to criticize the government.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.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.However, Berisha and Tirana Mayor Edi Rama, leader of the opposition Socialist Party, agreed in August to add two opposition appointees to the councils membership.
Publishers and media owners tend to dictate editorial policy based on political and economic affiliations, which, together with the employment insecurity journalists face, nurtures a culture of self-censorship.
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.
However, in September 2004 the first independent radio station supported entirely by private sector funds was inaugurated in Ghazni province.
However, it retains broad restrictions on content that is "contrary to the principles of Islam or offensive to other religions and sects" and "matters leading to dishonoring and defaming individuals." The legislation also establishes a government-appointed commission with the power to decide if journalists who contravene the law should face court prosecutions or fines.
Critics of the law have alleged that its prohibition of "anti-Islamic" writings is overly vague and has led to considerable confusion within the journalistic community on what constitutes permissible content.
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.