The Hungarian government has systematically dismantled media independence, freedom and pluralism, distorted the media market and divided the journalistic community in the country, achieving a degree of media control unprecedented in an EU member state. These conclusions were reached in a report published on Tuesday that reflect the findings of a joint mission to Hungary by seven organisations working in the field of media freedom.
Representatives from The International Press Institute (IPI), Article 19, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPFM), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Free Press Unlimited and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) travelled to Hungary last week to speak with a wide range of Hungarian journalists, civil society organisations and government representatives.
The report warns that the Hungarian government has pursued a “clear strategy to silence the critical press through deliberate manipulation of the media market”. As a result, large parts of the public have now been insulated from access to critical news and information, the report says.
Today, large sections of the Hungarian population only have access to state-sponsored news and information. The reach of the few independent media organisations that do exist is small. This means that for most people in the country today, there is no media pluralism, the report argues.
In a series of “urgent recommendations” the report calls on the Hungarian government to guarantee fair competition in media markets. It also urges the European Union to address the deliberate distortions of competition in the media market in Hungary through its competencies under competition and state aid law.