Radio Televizioni Shqiptar

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Radio Televizioni Shqiptar (RTSH)
Type Public TV and Radio
Country Albania
Availability National (in analogue); Tirana (digital)
International (on satellite and internet)
Slogan Radio Televizioni Publik Shqiptar
Owner Government of Albania
Key people
Martin Leka
(General director)
Launch date
November 28, 1938
(radio)
April 29, 1960
(television)
Former names
Radiodifuzioni dhe Televizioni Shqiptar
Official website
www.rtsh.al

Radio Televizioni Shqiptar (RTSH) (English: Albanian Radio and Television) is the public broadcaster of Albania, founded in 1938 in Tirana.

RTSH runs three television stations called Televizioni Shqiptar (TVSH), four digital television stations as RTSH, and three radio stations using the name Radio Tirana. In addition, four regional radio stations serve regionally in Gjirokastër, Korçë, Kukës, and Shkoder.

The international radio service broadcasts radio programmes in Albanian and seven other languages via medium wave (AM) and short wave (SW).[1] and uses the theme from the song "Keputa një gjethe dafine" as its signature tune. The international television service via satellite was launched since 1993 and aims at Albanian communities in Kosovo, Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro and northern Greece, plus the Albanian diaspora in the rest of Europe. Since 1999, RTSH has been a member of the European Broadcasting Union.

RTSH is the official organizer of the Albanian Song Festival Festivali i Kenges, the winner of which represents Albania in the Eurovision Song Contest. RTSH is funded by a combination of commercial advertising, a licence fee of US$12.00[2] and grant-in-aid from the Albanian government.

History[edit]

The beginnings of RTSH date to the creation of Radio Tirana on 28 November 1938. The first Albanian radio station was launched by King Zog I and Queen Geraldine Apponyi in a ceremony at the former building of the Municipality of Tirana.

King Zog and Queen Geraldine Apponyi (here on a picture from 1939) launched Radio Tirana in 1938.

A year earlier, a shortwave transmitter with a power of 3 kW at 40 meters was put in operation in Laprake (Tirana) and intended mainly for communication, but was also used to broadcast 3 hours of programmes per day. The first broadcast consisted of choral singing, where Jorgji Truja and Marije Kraja sang an introductory piece, followed by the unique timbre of Kaliopi Nushi's voice who pronounced the following phrase: "Mirëdita, kjo është Radio Tirana" (English: Good day, this is Radio Tirana). This officially marked the first broadcast of Radio Tirana. In 1987, 66 hours of programmes were broadcast in 20 foreign languages every day.[3]

TV[edit]

In 1959, Radio Tirana's director by that time, Petro Kita, founded the first Experimental Television Center to provide the basis for the latter Albanian television, TVSH. The first test programme was held on 29 April 1960, at 6:00 pm and was introduced by the journalist Stoli Beli. The official launch was set for 1 May 1960. Children movies and then adults’ programmes were broadcast, three times a week for about one hour.[4] Television programs were regularly launched by 1971.[5] Color broadcasts started in 1981, and became regular by 1982. In 2002 TVSH ranked second with an audience share of 17.1%. The second channel, TVSH 2, began experimental broadcasts in 2003. In 2012, several digital only channels were launched under the RTSH logo.

RTSH in the People's Socialist Republic of Albania[edit]

Despite the country's tiny size and isolationist policies, Radio Tirana was a fairly major international broadcaster during the Cold War. Its programmes had a reputation for being little more than dull propaganda.

During Albania's alliance with China in the 1960s and 1970s, Radio Tirana had to walk a fine line between being anti-West whilst also being anti-Soviet. As such, Radio Tirana kept close to the official policy of the People's Republic of China, which was also both anti-West and anti-Soviet whilst still being socialist in tone. Following the break with China, programming still remained Marxist-Leninist in nature.

Pin badge, late 1980s

During the 1970s, the station broadcast to Europe on 1214 kHz, causing interference problems for the British BBC Radio One on the same frequency. During the 1980s and early 1990s the international service was broadcast on 1395 kHz (along with various short wave frequencies) and was received throughout Europe during the evening and through the night. Radio Tirana also upset many amateur radio operators in Europe by operating transmitters in the 7 MHz (40 metre) amateur band.

In 1985, it broadcast only 2:30 hours per day. It opened at 20:00 and closed at 22:30. Later, in 1986, it broadcast each day for 4 hours, from 17:00 to 18:30 and 20:00 to 22:30. Most of the programming during the communist era consisted of propaganda and news programs.

Political programming predominated during this period. Features included Marxism-Leninism – an Ever-Young and Scientific Doctrine and Socialism and the Youth. The feature Leafing Through the Marxist-Leninist Press reviewed the journals of foreign communist parties allied to the Albanian Party of Labour. Other programs included Introducing You To Albania, Leafing Through Our Listeners' Letters, Culture and Art in Socialist Albania and The Song of Our Life. Radio Tirana also presented irregular programs of revolutionary music from around the world, while the programme What We Saw in Socialist Albania offered interviews with foreign visitors to Albania.

The interval signal of Radio Tirana during this period was the first few bars of the Albanian revolutionary song With a Pickaxe in One Hand and a Rifle in the Other. This song also served as the signature tune of Radio Tirana's foreign language broadcasts. The pickaxe and rifle were part of the logo of Albanian Radio-Television during this period, and can be seen in the above photograph.

During the last months of the socialist era, overtly political programming was drastically scaled down, and the long-established practice of playing "The Internationale" at the end of each broadcast was abandoned.

Censorship of foreign broadcasts[edit]

Mount Dajt overlooking Tirana. RTSH transmitters are mounted on the highest peak at the altitude of 1612 meters.

A similar ideological battle took place on the television spectrum. The neighboring TV signals of Italian RAI and Yugoslav RTV Titograd were particularly affected. During the 1960s, RAI was received in Tirana in decent quality. As time passed, the signal was strengthened by RTSH at Mount Dajti transmitter site only to broadcast the day's main news bulletin (TG1), films, and children's programmes. It is observed that in the news program, reports containing music concerts and papal activities, or even regular commercial spots were jammed. A similar phenomenon occurred with RTV Titograd's frequencies.

After the fall of the communist system, Albania's TV frequencies started to be filled by a variety of Western broadcasters: from RAI to CNN International. In 2002, the practice was partially discontinued as Parliament passed a law outlining protective measures for the Albanian broadcasting industry.

Radio Tirana as a cultural icon[edit]

Radio Tirana is widely seen as a symbol representing Albanian culture in the world. Through its educational, cultural, and informative programs broadcast nationally and internationally, Radio Tirana has played a major role in the transmission of Albanian people's cultural values. The station served as the first academy of Albanian literal language as in its archive can be found interesting historical artifacts such as a speech made by Fan Stilian Noli or the voice of Albanian arts' ambassador, Alexander Moissi. Furthermore, it served as a venue on which emerging Albanian artists first showcased their talents later becoming icons. The voices of Tefta Tashko-Koço, Marije Kraja, Kristaq Koço, Viktori Xhaçka and many others were first heard in the station's studios. In addition, Albanian personalities such as renowned actor Reshat Arbana, singer Vaçe Zela and Dr. Sulçebeg hosted the most popular programs.

Post-Communist Era[edit]

Experiments and brain drain[edit]

Logo of Albanian Television, TVSH.

RTSH has dominated the Albanian broadcasting field up to the mid-1990s, a period when privately owned radio and TV stations started to occupy the vast empty Albanian frequencies resulting in a gradual brain-drain. Lured by higher wages and not only, numerous experienced journalists and employees left RTSH for the new media outlets. For instance, Albania's current popular political talk shows such as Opinion by Blendi Fevziu (formerly E Diela Debat) or Fokus by Robert Papa can track their beginnings at RTSH. Despite the brain-drain, the institution has held a leader's position in the production of programs pertaining to civics, education and science.

One of the post-communist programs leaving a lasting impression was that of talented show-man Adi Krasta, entitled Rreth Fatit për 12-Javë. The show was embedded in a national lottery, something unseen before in Albania and ran on primetime state TV for about 5 hours non-stop in addition to offering tunes of famous American song ballads such as (I've Had) The Time Of My Life by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes, and hit song Auberge by British Blues icon Chris Rea. In addition, American actor of Albanian descent James Belushi offered his salutations to the Albanian people from the USA in the program through an exclusive interview. Other impressive programs included 12 vallzime pa nje te shtune, Miss Albania, and musical productions from Leonard Bombaj.

Peculiar productions[edit]

TVSH is known for producing high quality documentaries on Albanian national heritage topics such as important personalities, surveys of Albanian historic regions and geographic landscapes. The Theater on the Screen segment features theater performances of past years both in the drama and comedy genres.

Another typical TVSH production is the Green Space (Hapesire e Blerte) agricultural show, a long lasting programme entirely dedicated to the Albanian agricultural scene and countryside.

The End-Year Festive Concert, a yearly TV program styled as a celebration of the New Year where a variety of humorous sketches are conducted by talented comedy troupes from across Albania directed by talented TV directors is a successful TVSH production.

Up to the early 2000s, the journalistic field was represented by experienced iconic figures such as news anchors Tefta Radi, Roland Roshi, Arben Kamberi, Reiz Çiço and many others, while TVSH journalists are known for commanding a clear spoken Albanian language. RTSH also covers daily and special proceedings of the Parliament of Albania.

Foreign relays and times of war[edit]

In 1997, in Albania, educational institutions were temporarily shut down due to the civil unrest. As a result, RTSH broadcast instructional programs for the barricaded youth, that made for a substitute to regular instruction. RTSH is known also for the vast number of shows for children and adolescents produced each year.

In 1998, journalists of RTV Pristina (now RTK) were obliged to flee Pristina as the situation in Kosovo was escalating. They took temporal refuge in RTSH by anchoring specific news bulletins on their region's situation.

RTSH owns and operates a vast number of transmitter sites throughout the country such as the Fushe Dajt and Dajt 1613m stations at Mount Dajt in the periphery of Tirana. As such, a number of Western radio and TV broadcasters lease the sites to broadcast their own feeds since the 1990s.

Broadcasting outlets[edit]

Analogue TV[edit]

  • Televizioni Shqiptar (TVSH) is the name of the first public channel of Albania. The domestic TV program is distributed analogically throughout the country and digitally in Tirana through RTSH HD.
  • TVSH 2 is the second public TV channel dedicated mainly to sports and live events launched in 2003.

Digital TV[edit]

  • RTSH HD a digital channel launched in 2012 broadcasts TVSH shows in high-definition quality.
  • RTSH Sport
  • RTSH Muzikë
  • RTSH Art
  • TVSH Sat, is the international version of the domestic program broadcast to Europe free to air via satellite.

Radio[edit]

  • Radio Tirana (also, Radio Tirana 1) is the name of Albania's first radio program, concentrating on news, talk, and features
  • Radio Tirana 2 is the name of the second radio program, broadcasting chiefly music and targeted at youth
  • Radio Tirana 3 (Programi i Tretë, Radio Tirana International) is the name of the third program, broadcasting the international service on shortwave in Albanian, English, French. Greek, German, Italian, Serbian, and Turkish
  • Radio Gjirokastra is the local version of RT in Gjirokastër
  • Radio Korça is the local version of RT in Korçë
  • Radio Kukësi is the local version of RT in Kukës
  • Radio Shkodra is the local version of RT in Shkodër

Programs[edit]

Nationally created shows currently broadcast by Televizioni Shqiptar (as of November 2014)[edit]

Original name Format Origin
Lajme news Albania
Ndiq Programin Ndiq Programin Albania
Jo Vetëm Kafe morning show Albania
Hapësirë e Blertë agricultural affairs Albania
Duel talk show Albania
Kafe e së dieles Talk show Albania
Drejtperdrejtë talk show Albania
Netët e Klipit awards gala Albania
Rubrika Sportive sport show Albania
Supermodel of Albania Supermodel of Albania Albania
Aktualitet Permes Shtypit early morning show Albania

Internationally created shows currently broadcast by Televizioni Shqiptar (as of February 2012)[edit]

Original name Albanian translation Origin
Ditari Lajme nga Zëri i Amerikës United States
The Mentalist Mentalisti United States
Millennium Millennium Albania
Eurovision Song Contest Festivali Evropian i Këngës Europe

Technical improvements[edit]

The broadcasting quality of Radio Tirana has gradually improved throughout the years. After the Second World War, noticeable improvements were observed in Albania's coverage with signal. Improvements were also noted in the external service, as the radio center of Shijak (Durrës) was opened in November 1961 equipped with 3 transmitters, 2 in shortwave intended for the external service.

In December 1965, a new building of Radio Tirana was inaugurated. During the upcoming years, a combined total of 18 medium and short wave transmitters were installed, part of which carried Radio Tirana's external service programmes for many years.

In 2003, an attractive TV news room studio was created, and the TV (TVSH) signal on VHF band in Tirana was strengthened. TVSH became available also on UHF and experimental broadcasts of the second TV channel TVSH 2 were initiated. Later, screen graphics experienced an extreme makeover.The FM channel in the capital at 99,5 MHz was put on Stereo, and the second radio program was expanded to 24 hours a day.

In 2007, RTSH launched its official webpage with daily news briefs and a variety of information on its services. The online stream of Radio Tirana 3 was launched on 28 November 2008 by the German Radio 700 team while the Radio Tirana 1 stream was launched in January 2009.

In 2011, RTSH launched live streaming of the 50th edition of Festivali i Kenges, by possibly marking the first time that RTSH launched an online streaming video service in its history. In the last years, RTSH has upgraded TV studios and broadcasting equipment, launched a number of digital TV channels, added live online TV and radio streams, and has uploaded TV programs on YouTube.

In 2013, RTSH launched four additional channels including: RTSH HD, RTSH Muzikë, RTSH Art, RTSH Sport.

Special productions[edit]

  • RTSH is the producer of the annual national song competition, Festivali i Këngës. The winner of the competition goes on to represent Albania in the Eurovision Song Contest.
  • RTSH has produced the most high-rated Albanian television series, Njerëz dhe Fate, Dhimbja e Dashurisë, and radio series Rruga me Pisha
  • Miss Albania and Miss Europe were some of the fashion competitions organized by RTSH in the 1990s.

Controversies and criticisms[edit]

Allegations of bias in reporting have remained throughout the long history of RTSH. Critics and observers of the institution suggest that it leans towards the government's agenda and conclude that it unsuccessfully tries to reinvent itself as an independent public broadcaster.

Additionally, TVSH was observed simulcasting Fox News Channel at the night-time slot (apprx. 0000CET-0700CET) during the 2003 military campaign on Iraq.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Radio Tirana's Broadcasting Schedule as of 2007 - RadioTirana.org
  2. ^ About RTSH - rtsh.sil.at
  3. ^ History of Radio Tirana's Transmitters – DX LISTENING DIGEST 6-150 October 8, 2006
  4. ^ "Faqe nga historia e Televizionit Shqiptar". Koha Jone. 2005-06-03. Retrieved 2008-06-26. 
  5. ^ Wells, Alan (1996). World Broadcasting: a comparative view. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 107. ISBN 1-56750-245-8. 

External links[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Cobani, Agron. Ju flet Tirana..., Tirana, Toena: 2010.