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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.The plan came as part of a deal allowing municipal elections to proceed in early 2007.Press freedom advocates in 2006 continued to urge the government to decriminalize defamation, which could incur a maximum sentence of two years in prison under existing statutes.Although the parliament failed to act on draft amendments introduced in 2005, Prime Minister Sali Berisha in October of that year ordered government officials to use the right of reply rather than civil or criminal defamation suits to address perceived bias or inaccuracy in the media. The prospects for legal reform improved in June, when Albania signed a Stabilization and Association Agreement with the European Union.In September, an investigative television show aired recorded conversations in which a government official appeared to pressure two nephews of President Alfred Moisiu to convince their uncle to fire the attorney general, whom Berisha has accused of corruption in a politically charged standoff.Albania has 66 private television stations, at least 45 private radio stations, and roughly 200 print publications in circulation.In a high-profile case that was criticized extensively by both local and western groups, Ali Mohaqiq Nasab, editor of the monthly women's rights magazine Haqooq-i-Zan, was ordered arrested by the high court for publishing articles deemed to be "anti-Islamic." Despite the fact that the government-appointed Media Commission cleared him of blasphemy charges, he was sentenced by the high court to two years' imprisonment in October and also faced the threat of a court-issued fatwa that could have increased his sentence.

Although registration requirements remain in place, authorities have granted more than 250 publications licenses, and several dozen private radio stations and eight television stations are now broadcasting, with the expansion of independent print and broadcast outlets continuing in 2005.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.International radio broadcasts in Dari or Pashto, such the BBC, VOA, Radio Liberty, and Radio Free Afghanistan, remain a key source of information for many Afghans.Many independent media outlets are hampered by a lack of revenue.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.

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