Hungarian foreign ministry lists journalists’ trips abroad

In a letter dated 2 June 2020, József Magyar, the Hungarian deputy secretary of state for development of European affairs at the ministry of foreign affairs and trade, asked Hungarian embassies in the European Union to provide information about the professional visits of Hungarian journalists to the respective EU countries. The letter, unveiled on 21 September by the online news platform Telex, requests embassies to report professional visits, training courses and research trips for Hungarian journalists in recent years. Hungarian representations were asked to report when these trips abroad took place, which Hungarian media participated, and which organisations or press…

In Hungary EU funds are used to finance pro-government media

The political interference at Index, one of the last independent news outlets in Hungary, requires a strong reaction from the leaders of the European Union. The move contravenes the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, which is a legally binding charter. The EU should feel responsible: issued on Thursday, the EU Media Pluralism Monitor (MPM2020) states that “EU-funds are constantly used to finance pro-government media and spread anti-EU messages” in Hungary. Inaction on behalf of the EU leaders allows Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to tighten his authoritarian grip. Yesterday, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) together with its Media Freedom Rapid…

Hungary: journalists at Index resign, EU must take action

Thousands of people took to the streets in Budapest on Friday evening to demonstrate against the attacks on Hungary’s biggest independent news portal “Index”. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) welcomes this protest march and calls on European leaders to protect media freedom in Hungary. The editorial board and more than 70 journalists at “Index” have resigned, two days after its editor-in-chief Szabolcs Dull was fired amid claims of political interference. On Friday, three leading editors and more than 70 others said they were ending their employment there, because board president Laszlo Bodolai had refused to reinstate the chief editor. The…

2020 Annual Report: Attacks on media in Europe must not become a new normal

Launch of the 2020 Annual Report by the partner organisations to the Council of Europe Platform to Promote the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists Attacks on press freedom in Europe are at serious risk of becoming a new normal, 14 international press freedom groups and journalists’ organisations, including the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), warn today as they launch the 2020 annual report of the Council of Europe Platform for the Protection of Journalists. The fresh assault on media freedom amid the Covid-19 pandemic has worsened an already gloomy outlook. The report analyses alerts submitted to the Platform…

Hungary: EFJ urges again the EU to condemn limits on freedom of information

In the wake of our discussion on Friday with the Vice President of the European Commission for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) expressed again today its serious concerns about the sweeping powers granted to Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in a parliamentary vote approving indefinite rule by decree and jail terms for spreading misinformation. The EFJ fully supports the petition “No Quarantine for Democracy!” developed with MEPs (including Ramona Strugariu, Stelios Kouloglou, Viola von Cramon-Taubadel, Lara Wolters and Guy Verhofstadt), which is calling on all EU Member States to ensure reinforced protections for journalists, the media…

EESC report points out decline of media freedom in Europe

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), which is composed of three groups representing the EU’s trade unions, employers’ organisations and diverse civil society organisations, issued an interim report on fundamental rights and the rule of law in Romania, Hungary, Poland, Austria and France. This report highlights serious concerns regarding freedom of expression and the media as put forward by civil society in the targeted countries. Building on this newly published report, the EESC held in Brussels on 5 November a high-level conference on “Fundamental Rights and the Rule of Law – Trends in the EU from a civil society…

Hungary: almost 78% of the media are pro-government

The European Federation of Journalists has expressed concerns over the state of media freedom and independence in Hungary following the publication of a study showing that the majority of media in the country are pro-government. It was published on 2 May by the media monitor Mérték and investigates the level of independence of the Hungarian media, stating almost 78% of the media are pro-government. The study, commissioned by a Member of the European Parliament (MEP), Sven Giegold (the Greens), shows the far-reaching media power of the ruling Fidez-party. In November 2018 the creation of the government-related media foundation KESMA uniting…

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…