ORBÁN Viktor
Photo: MTI/Miniszterelnöki Sajtóiroda/Fischer Zoltán

The Council of Europe has reported its concerns, throughout 14 pages, regarding the situation of the Hungarian freedom of the press.

The document, finalised on March 15, was written by the Council’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatovic, reports Népszava.hu. Prior to its preparation, several interviews were conducted, among others, with civil organisations, journalists and governmental officials. Judit Varga, Minister of Justice; Balázs Orbán, Under-Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Office; Mónika Karas, president of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH) and Ákos Kozma, ombudsman were interviewed, for instance.

The first part of the report talks about the separation of powers. After analysing the situation, the report states that contrary to democracies paying attention to separate the three branches,

in Hungary, an unusual amount of power is concentrated in the hands of the authority supervising the media, the sector of telecommunication and the use of radio frequencies.

Moreover, since 2010 only delegates of the governing party make up the Council of Media, which is the decision-making body of the NMHH. Thus, the Council can be perceived as a clearly political body. It has the possibility to examine, investigate and introduce sanctions on media contents without clear parameters in its legal documents on what is considered a breach of law. The legal authority of the Committee on Digital Freedom set up last year by the Ministry of Justice to monitor the censorship of Facebook is also quite foggy.

The report separately mentions governmental decisions involving the media taken during the state of emergency caused by the pandemic, particularly the sanctions on false news and rumours causing general panic among the public. Altogether, 134 procedures were initiated based on the criminal Code. Though most of them were terminated and not carried out,

the high number of procedures on its own can mean that the press’s freedom was being compromised.


Moreover, certain governmental bodies referring to the state of alarm can prolong the time up to 45 days to answer public interest data. This hurts the freedom of information.
The document mentions the “law on drones” accepted last year, according to which one can receive a one-year prison sentence for taking pictures or videos of someone’s property without his permission. According to the Council of Europe, this very much endangers the functioning of the free press.

A separate section of the report deals with national and governmental advertisements deforming the sector and the market. As they say, on the course of last year,

86% of the amount sacrificed for advertisements landed in media companies’ pockets having ties to the government.

With the creation of KESMA, the organisation owning all municipal daily newspapers and many other media outlets, 200 journalists had lost their jobs. Furthermore, the mass/public media is broadcasting everything the government says, while for instance, it is forbidden to publish anything about international organisations such as Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International. The report also says that the

mass/public media works by direct editorial instructions in order to unanimously broadcast the government’s standpoint.

The report also mentions the sudden change in the ownership of Index, after 

a pro-governmental businessman bought a huge stake in Hungary’s top news portal,

the silencing of Klubrádió, and Népszava, as the last oppositional, printed newspaper on public life. After conducting the interviews with the governmental officials, Dunja Mijatovic herself also experienced that most of them see criticism as an “evil propaganda against the government” or the “work of Soros agents”.

The document points out that for now, physical harm does not threaten journalists. However, it does not exclude the possibility that these campaigns of hatred will have this exact effect.

Finally, the report proposes solutions in 8 points to improve the situation. Among others, the modification of certain laws, the consultation with civil organisations and the condemnation of campaigns of hatred.

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Source: Népszava.hu

7 comments
  1. Give VO another decade and Hungary will be like North Korea: one party plus one ( fake ) other party, one tv channel, one radio channel. End of the story.

  2. Hungarian press freedom is not being compromised, but is a picture of an unfettered economy. There is no market for leftist media because the Hungarian people did not give credibility to its content. The media presently publishes the truth, whether good or bad. Bloomberg’s leftist socialist media is entering the media market. It there was no free media market, the best thing for Hungary would be to keep out this lying leftwing media company.

  3. Not sure whether this is a ploy to provoke responses but Szabad Európa was relaunched for Hungary last year due to restricted media press freedom. Hungary is ranked 89 in the press freedom index, it was 87 two years ago. This is all about power. I really hope the government doesn’t think we’re all a bunch of no brainers.

  4. The headline in todays Daily News Hungary is the statement that Hungary is led by a mass murder Govt.
    The fact that Daily News is allowed to do that surely means there is press freedom in Hungary!
    Would an opposition newspaper be allowed to say that against President Biden, Chancellor Merkel or Prime Minister Trudeau? I doubt it very much, hence to me as a foreigner with an interest in Hungary I get a lot of news about the Hungarian opposition.

  5. The answer for my critic is Have you read any Hungarian News Papers of listen to any Hungarian News?
    There is absolutely no restriction of media content.

    Let us look at the media market in the US. CNN, MSNBC, NBC, CBS and ABC and print media Washington Post and New York Times. All these companies are owned and controlled by leftist socialist and globalist. The only TV media that tells the truth is FOX. These conglomerates put lies out on daily basis to help globalists gain ultimate power. The globalists cannot abide that a small country like Hungary reject them because had enough of foreign dictatorships over its history.

    Mario and my other critic are easily brainwashed. These people should look around them to see what is real instead of relying on lying media for facts.

  6. Simpsons are not the ultimate or smartest people (referring to the ( creators) able to judge validity of reality or news. If Ned relies on political reality from a cartoon, he should give up political criticism.

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