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Fiks Fare!

Still shot from Fiks Fare’s sting operation at the First Degree Court in Puka, Albania. Text on the screen: the First Degree Court, Pukë. $100 dollar bills are counted [by recipient] Liljana Shkjau, secretary of the Head of the Court.

Since 2002, the satirical investigative television show, Fiks Fare [Right On!/Exactly] [pronounced feeks far-eh], airs immediately after prime-time news at Top Channel, the leading national broadcasting network in Albania. Fiks Fare! conducts sting operations and citizen-led investigations providing visual evidence of the ubiquitous allegations of corruption in contemporary Albania. Fiks Fare!’s cameras have exposed a wide range of illicit transactions—from daily interactions with low-level bureaucrats to backroom deals between high-level officials.

Fiks Fare!’s investigations have led to several court cases making the show an effective whistleblower in a country notorious for a lack of convictions of corruption charges. The Fiks Fare! investigations of the Puka First Degree Court in 2013 are a case in point. Fiks Fare!’s hidden cameras followed the Puka resident, Pal Ndoka, in the coffee shops and offices where cash bribes (amounting to a total of $6,000) were negotiated, exchanged, counted, recorded, and divided among court officials and their intermediaries. The following news segment captures the highlights of these investigations while announcing the arrests of a judge, a prosecutor, a secretary, an accountant, a broker and two lawyers named and/or present in the Fiks Fare! recordings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7SeL7--0A0.

At the same time, Fiks Fare!’s methods and ethics, especially its cynical satire, its aesthetics of vulgarity, and its complicity in the illicit acts, has draw much critique and skepticism. Another revelation by Fiks Fare! in 2011, for instance, led to a trial of a sitting minister (Ilir Meta) by Albania’s High Court. Fiks Fare! aired a private recording of a conversation between Meta (then vice-prime-minister) and minister, Dritan Prifti (then minister of economy) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLvfv3lVT6s&list=PLOsocdN2gRa_ryKPSV4Td2LIYqPCpvfOy&index=2). In the course of the conversation, Meta draws a list of favors that he demands forcefully from Prifti (including giving a tender to a company that had promised a 7% kickback). The footage provided a rare visual narrative of the rumored favoritism and kickbacks exchanged for public procurement contracts. Yet, it failed to lead to the conviction of a high-level official. Meta was cleared of the charges and returned to politics stronger than before; he continues to be a party leader as well as the speaker of the parliament. This failure to bring about a conviction of a high-level official speaks to the broader skepticism about the Fiks Fare!’s ability to represent a politics of opposition in the current political scene in Albania.

 

 

 

 

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Participant: Smoki MUSARAJ
Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology | Ohio University
Presentation: "Cynical Parody and Investigative Journalism As a Powerful Anti-Corruption Discourse in Albania"