According to a study conducted by Reporters Without Borders (RWB), Hungary is ranked 87th based on the World Press Freedom Index. This is a considerably worse position to last year’s, and the situation continues to deteriorate.
Compared to last year’s ranking, Hungary fell 14 places, indicating that press freedom has declined in the country relative to other states. RWB, who are an international journalism organisation, have classified Hungary’s press situation as having “noticeable problems”. As reported by hvg.hu, in the 2019 rankings, Hungary is placed 87th out of 180 countries.
RWB’s latest report on Hungary stated:
“The ownership of Hungary’s media has continued to become increasingly concentrated in the hands of oligarchs allied with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s ultra-nationalist government, with the result that the media landscape has been transformed in recent years. The most important critical media outlets have had to close, while the editorial independence of others has been threatened by the presence of pro-government oligarchs on their boards, among their shareholders or within the financial institutions that fund them.”
“The past year also saw the creation of a pro-Orbán consortium (KESMA) of around 500 privately-owned newspapers, cable TV channels, radio stations and news websites, and almost all of the regional daily newspapers. By declaring this consortium to be of “strategic national importance in the public interest,” the government has in practice prevented competing media outlets or media sector representatives from opposing it,” RWB also wrote.
At the time of KESMA’s creation, RWB published a statement which warned that the consortium was threatening the diversity of the Hungarian press.
Worse than North Korea
The first place of the World Press Freedom Index is Norway followed by Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark. At the end of the list is Turkmenistan, which is positioned after North Korea and Eritrea. With its 87th position, Hungary was around countries like Sierra Leone (86), Peru (85) Israel (88), Guinea-Bissau (89) and Serbia (90).
RWB have been conducting their yearly survey of the world’s press since 2002 and have been investigating the extent to which media pluralism, the independence of the press, and respect for journalists’ freedom and physical integrity is present in each country.
Hungary was ranked 40th in 2011, and since then, it has fallen to its current lowly standing. The main reasons for this are its media laws and increased censorship.
At the end of last year, the public protested the government’s control of the press outside the public media headquarters. Earlier this year, we reported that Hungary failed to meet the Council of Europe’s media freedom guidelines.
Source: hvg.hu, rsf.org