Entries RSS Feed Share Send to Facebook Tweet This Accessible version

Debate over media freedom

October 23rd, 2017

As the US charge d’affaires and the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union express concerns over the freedom of the media, a left-wing commentator accuses the government of trying to suppress critical voices in the media. A pro-government columnist remarks that the most popular media outlets are harsh critics of the government.

On Tuesday, US charge d’affaires David Kostelancik accused the government of limiting press freedom in Hungary (see BudaPost October 20). On Wednesday, TASZ, Hungarian Civil Liberties Union called for the clear legal distinction of independent news outlets from what they called outlets serving pro-government propaganda. The NGO watchdog suggested that the right to exercise free speech should be confined to independent media outlets, while  government sponsored media should be barred from expressing editorial opinion. Government spokesman Zoltán Kovács remarked that Mr Kostelancik was expressing his concerns over press freedom in the company of former prominent communist newsmen including the moderator himself, who runs a daily public affairs show on RTL TV.

On Index, Dávid Sajó accuses pro-government investors of acquiring important media outlets to use them as mouthpieces of the government. The liberal commentator recalls that the Media Authority vetoed the purchase of Centrál Digitális Média by RTL, the number one TV channel, but it gave a green light to pro-government millionaires to create media empires by purchasing independent and left-wing outlets. Sajó believes that the Media Authority wants to serve the interests of the governing parties – rather than defending diversity in the media. As a result, “most of the Hungarian media has been bought off by the hinterland of the government,” Sajó contends.

Magyar Idők’s Bence Apáti finds it absurd to claim that the Hungarian media is not free. The pro-government columnist recalls that the most popular news program is broadcast by RTL, a TV station that is highly critical of the government. In addition, the two main news channels, ATV and Hír TV are even more outspoken critics of the governing forces. Apáti deems it bewildering that left-wing and liberal intellectuals should lament the lack of freedom of speech – in nationwide news outlets.

Tags: ,