Hungary: new pro-government media conglomerate threatens pluralism

The European and International Federations of Journalists (EFJ-IFJ) join their affiliates in Hungary, HPU and MUOSZ, in calling on Hungarian authorities to obstruct the formation of a huge media conglomerate that questions media pluralism. The owners of a majority of Hungary’s pro-government media outlets said Wednesday they are donating their companies to a foundation, the “Central European Press and Media Foundation”. This new right-wing media conglomerate will include cable news channels, online news portals, tabloid and sports newspapers and all of Hungary’s county newspapers, several radio stations and numerous magazines. Among the media companies to be under its control are Echo Penisola Ltd.…

EP Public hearing – Role of Independent Public Service Media for Democracy in Europe

Independence of Public Service Media (PSM) in Europe is under increased pressure in a number of the EU Member States. Destabilization of this democratic institution in the context of the overall challenges in Europe and weakening of other democratic institutions, such as political parties represents a real threat to the democracy in Europe. The PSM in Hungary is under the full control of Orban. In 2016 a political cleansing took place in the public service broadcaster in Poland followed by a political purge in the Croatian broadcaster. Recently the Czech Television is under pressure for rejection of their annual report,…

Hungary should be sanctioned for violating the Rule of Law, said the European Parliament

For the first time, members of the European Parliament called on the European Union to sanction one of its Member States, Hungary, on Wednesday 12 September. The government led by Prime Minister Victor Orban was accused of silencing independent media, targeting NGOs and removing independent judges, among other violations of democracy and common European values. The text adopted outlines in particular the bad state of freedom of expression in Hungary and the situation of Hungarian media since 2011, which has been constantly raising concerns on the issues of concentration and politicisation of media ownership; media law; self-censorship; denial of accreditation;  targeting of journalists; and…

Hungary: Hir TV news channel taken over by the government

Hír TV, one of the last independent television broadcaster in Hungary, announced significant changes in the editorial and management teams on 1 August 2018, following its purchase by pro-government businessman Zsolt Nyerges in July. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) is alarmed by this new attempt to control the media in Hungary. The announcement on the channel’s website stated that Hír TV “returns to its old values, continuing where it was left in 2015“. The TV channel used to follow a pro-governmental line until 2015, when the relationship between Prime Minister Viktor Orban and the former owner Lajos Simicska deteriorated, which then modified the editorial policy.…

Hungary: two media outlets forced to close following Orbán’s electoral win

Radio station Lánchíd Rádió as well as Hungarian opposition daily newspaper Magyar Nemzet have shut down on 10 and 11 April 2018. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) is appalled by the latest developments following Orbán’s electoral win, which further narrows media pluralism in Hungary. The Hungarian opposition daily newspaper Magyar Nemzet and its online version were forced to close yesterday due to financial reasons. A sudden increase in rent of the publishing buildings, whose owners are reported to be close to the newly re-elected Hungarian Prime minister Viktor Orbán, led it to cease its media production.  The Hungarian radio station Lánchíd Rádió…

Journalists harassed for their reports on Hungary’s anti-Soros campaign

Several journalists working in Hungary for foreign media outlets alerted the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) about the harassment they have been subjected to. The EFJ condemns those attacks and calls on the Hungarian authorities to stop harassing the journalists in question. “Propagandists”, “spokespeople”, “drug addict”: this is the kind of verbal attacks journalists reporting on Hungary’s campaign against George Soros have received, directly from the government or some pro-governmental media outlets. The EFJ recently submitted the following two cases on the Council of Europe platform for the safety of journalists. The Website 888.hu Publishes a List of Eight Journalists Described as…

Journalist in Hungary violently expelled from a forum by a local politician

Júlia Halász, a reporter of the Hungarian liberal 444.hu website, was violently expelled from one of the public party forums in Budapest last Thursday (04/05/2017). National Economy Minister Mihály Varga and National Defence Minister István Simicskó were explaining the dangers of the “Soros network” and the “Stop Brussels” campaign. Halász was reporting on the anti-Soros forums and started producing footage when she was approached by three men who told her to leave, as she could not record the event without registration. “I went back in the room, but no longer recorded the event with the camera. I just took some…

EFJ and IFJ in solidarity with staff of Népszabadság

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and News Media Europe expressed today in Brussels their solidarity with the journalists from the Hungarian independent newspaper “Népszabadság” (Freedom of the People). The decision to suspend publication of Hungary’s biggest left-leaning daily broadsheet came out of the blue two weeks ago without the knowledge of staff. Together with Anthony Bellanger, IFJ GS, Ricardo Gutiérrez, EFJ GS, participated today to a solidarity demonstration in Brussels, in front of the European Commission offices. “Nepszabadsag is dead, victim of a murder planned in advance,” said the daily Brussels correspondent Katalin Halmai. She explained…

Demonstration of solidarity with Hungary’s newspaper NÉPSZABADSÁG

We will be gathering for a demonstration of solidarity with Hungary’s main opposition newspaper NÉPSZABADSÁG which was unexpectedly and viciously shut down, fueling concerns over a government crackdown on critical media. Since the paper’s suspension, its journalists are not allowed to publish in any other media. The paper’s archives are also inaccessible. Employees of NÉPSZABADSÁG are practically hostages of the publisher Mediaworks, which is suspected to be sold soon to a government-friendly investor. We need to show solidarity with NÉPSZABADSÁG. We also need to raise our voices for press freedom, a fundamental principle of the EU. No Member State have…

Hungary’s biggest opposition newspaper shuts down

Publication of Hungary’s biggest opposition newspaper, Népszabadság (People’s Freedom), has been suspended. The paper’s owner company Mediaworks unexpectedly announced on Saturday it would suspend both the print and online editions. The European and International Federations of Journalists (EFJ and IFJ) are shocked by this huge blow to media pluralism in Hungary. Around 2,000 Hungarians protested in Budapest on Saturday against the closure of the country’s leading leftist newspaper. Mediaworks, owned by Austrian firm Vienna Capital Partners, said the paper was operating at a “considerable” loss and struggled with dropping circulation. But civil rights groups said the newspaper had been shut down because it…

EFJ supports ECPMF actions for media freedom in Hungary

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban is under fire, with protest letters from the European Centre for Press&Media Freedom (ECPMF) being delivered to his embassies and consulates across Europe on 14 April. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) has joined today the ECPMF in its action for media freedom in Hungary. “We appreciate the ECPMF action towards the Hungarian Prime Minister who consistently since 2010 has attacked media freedom in Hungary. Growing government pressure has led to growing self-censorship among journalists. A rule of law procedures like in Poland should have been likewise introduced in Hungary, if the EU wants to be…

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