Meeting of the Advisory Board of “The illiberal Turn” Project

Dr Vaclav Stetka (PI) and Professor Sabina Mihelj (Co-I) have been awarded an ESRC standard research grant for a project titled “The Illiberal Turn? News Consumption, Political Polarisation and Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe” (£817,000). The project will carry out a comparative analysis of the relationship between news consumption and political attitudes in four CEE countries – Poland, Czechia, Hungary and Serbia, at a key point in time when the region is witnessing the rise of populist leaders, resurgence of illiberal nationalism, and a shift towards authoritarian forms of government. Scheduled to run from May 2019 until November 2021,…

Report: Urgent action needed to protect press freedom in Europe

Press freedom in Europe is more fragile now than at any time since the end of the Cold War. That is the alarming conclusion of a report launched today by the 12 partner organizations of the Council of Europe Platform to promote the protection of Journalism and safety of journalists. The report, “Democracy at Risk”, analyses media freedom violations raised to the Platform in 2018. It provides a stark picture of the worsening environment for the media across Europe, in which journalists increasingly face obstruction, hostility and violence as they investigate and report on behalf of the public. The 12 Platform partners…

Hungary: demonstrators demand independence of public service media

The Hungarian public media MTVA became on Monday 17 December the focal point of the protest movement that started last week in the capital against Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, over the passing of new bills, including the so-called “slave law”. According to media reports, thousands of demonstrators gathered outside state public broadcaster MTVA headquarters. About ten opposition members of parliament (MP) entered the building with the aim to read the demands of the protesters live on air. The requests included the overturn of a controversial labour law, the annulment of the judicial reform and a call for more independence and objectivity…

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…

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