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Hungary

Blog   |   Hungary

Orbán walks fine line in Brussels with Hungary's media law

Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in Brussels last year. Hungary and its media law have come under scrutiny in the EU. (Reuters/Yves Herman)

"With the Islamic state offensive, the Ebola epidemic and Ukraine, Hungary is not on anyone's mind in Europe," mused one of our interlocutors during the Committee to Protect Journalists' fact-finding mission in Budapest in October. "Viktor Orbán has really nothing to fear from Brussels."

Blog   |   Hungary

In Hungary, an independent website defies censorship and pressure

Tamás Bodoky, editor-in-chief of Atlatszo, which advocates for information access. (AFP/Peter Kohalmi)

A delegation from the Committee to Protect Journalists, led by board member Kati Marton, traveled to Hungary in October on CPJ's first fact-finding and advocacy mission to an EU member state. We went there in response to concerning reports of deteriorating conditions for the press, and met dozens of journalists, media lawyers, managers, rights defenders, and policy analysts. Those we spoke to described an atmosphere of fear and self-censorship, and how critical reporting and alternative views are suppressed through a variety of means, including legal and economic measures that stifle and discourage independent coverage.

But there were signs of hope. Enterprising journalists are defying authorities' attempts to interfere with editorial policies and silence sensitive stories. The editorial team of one such news website, Atlatszo--the name means "transparent"--specializes in investigative journalism and advocating for information access. In Budapest, CPJ visited Atlatszo's offices, housed in an old department store.

October 31, 2014 10:52 AM ET

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Blog   |   Hungary

Mission Journal: Creeping authoritarianism in Hungary

People protesting in Budapest about a new Internet tax on data use hold up their smartphones. (Reuters/Laszlo Balogh)

On the Buda side of the River Danube stands the glass and steel headquarters of the thriving German-owned entertainment channel RTL. On the Pest side of the Hungarian capital, tucked in a corner of a converted department store, lies the cramped office of struggling online news outlet Atlatszo.

October 30, 2014 12:14 PM ET

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Blog   |   Hungary

Amid government crackdown, Hungary's journalists look for new ways to work

"They raided our offices as if we were mobsters. The irony of the situation is that the Hungarian police rarely raid mobsters with such force," said an employee at one of two NGOs whose Budapest offices were stormed by about 20 officers of the Central Investigations Office--Hungary's version of the FBI--on September 8.

Blog   |   Hungary

Hungary's independent media struggle against economic pressure, intimidation

Viktor Orban was re-elected Hungary's prime minister by Parliament in May. (Reuters/Bernadett Szabo)

"This is a new wave of clampdowns by the government--they want to have another four-year term with even less critical media than before," said Szabolcs, a 21-year-old economics student, one of thousands of people who marched in the streets of Budapest in June, chanting "Free Country, Free Press!" The demonstrations were in reaction to several restrictive measures pushed through by Hungary's re-elected government led by the center-right Fidesz party, headed by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

Blog   |   Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugual, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, UK

EU underscores support of free expression, but slights access to information

A new document on freedom of expression and opinion, adopted May 12 by the 28 foreign ministers of the European Union, presses nearly all the right buttons. Drawing its inspiration from international human rights norms as well as from the EU's treaties and its charter of fundamental rights, the document reaffirms the role of freedom of opinion and expression as "an essential foundation for democracy, rule of law, peace, stability, sustainable inclusive development, and participation in public affairs." It also makes a strong case for free and independent journalism. The ministers committed the EU and member states to the defense of journalists' freedom and safety, and endorsed watchdog journalism as a decisive factor in "uncovering abuses of power, shining a light on corruption, and questioning received opinion."

Blog   |   Hungary

Hello, I'm Robert Capa, may I take a picture?

How would Robert Capa and Joe Pulitzer have reacted to the law that came into force on March 15 in their country of birth, Hungary? Let us guess that they would have been stunned. A provision in the new Hungarian civil code forbids taking pictures without the permission of everyone in the photograph.

Blog   |   Hungary

European Parliament reaffirms principles, but action lacks

Today's vote in the European Parliament was based on a report by Romanian MEP Renate Weber. (Reuters)

The European Parliament, meeting in a plenary session in Strasbourg, France, adopted today a resolution stating that "changes in EU member state's media laws that make it easier for governments to interfere in the media should be monitored every year at EU level."

May 21, 2013 2:31 PM ET

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Blog   |   Hungary, Romania, Turkey

Red flags in the European Union press freedom debate

The European Union enjoys waving the banner of press freedom overseas. However, it is sometimes at a loss when it has to define its approach to press freedom among its own member states.

Last year, the EU tried and failed to convince the Hungarian government to radically amend its highly controversial media law. The conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orban deflected the pressure by playing on the vagueness of EU treaties and on the fear of Brussels' intervention in the member states' "internal affairs."

Blog   |   Hungary

Hungary's media law still unsatisfactory

A Hungarian holds a banner reading 'EU No!' in Budapest on March 15, 2012, during a commemoration of the 1848-1849 Hungarian revolution and independence war. (AFP/Attila Kisbenedek)

The Hungarian press law is again drawing fire from the European Union; the amendments adopted by the Hungarian Parliament on May 24 have not placated Brussels.

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