Hungary

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."

Letters   |   Hungary, Kenya

CPJ urges free expression be part of post-2015 MDG agenda

Dear Ambassadors Kamau and Kőrösi: I am writing to you in your capacity as the co-chairmen of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals. Your work and the recommendations of your group will help frame the discussion in the coming year as United Nations member states seek to agree a set of objectives to succeed the Millennium Development Goals beyond 2015. We at the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) believe it is vital that your report to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon later this year include freedom of expression and access to information and independent media as part of the post-2015 agenda.

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.

Attacks on the Press   |   Hungary

Attacks on the Press in 2013: Hungary

Hungary's record of press freedom and human rights deteriorated in 2013, resulting in calls from some European lawmakers to suspend the country's voting rights in the European Union. Authorities adopted controversial changes to the constitution in March, including a provision limiting pre-election political advertising solely to broadcasters--most of which are controlled by or affiliated with allies of Prime Minister Viktor Orban. The amendments also curtailed the powers of Hungary's Constitutional Court by taking away its right to strike down unconstitutional laws. After news outlets tried to investigate allegations of government corruption, lawmakers introduced amendments to the Freedom of Information Act, restricting the amount of government data that individuals and nongovernmental groups, including media outlets, could access. In August, Orban faced criticism from press freedom advocates after he nominated an ally of his party, Fidesz, to lead the national Media Authority, which regulates all domestic and international media--including print, broadcast, and the Internet--as well as their publishers and service providers. In November, the Hungarian Parliament adopted the criminalization of libel, two weeks after the amendment was proposed by lawmakers.

February 12, 2014 1:24 AM ET

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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Attacks on the Press   |   Hungary

Attacks on the Press in 2012: Hungary

Despite pressure from the European Commission, the Hungarian government implemented a media law that requires "balanced reporting" and imposes fines for transgressions. The government adopted only minor amendments in response to demands from the commission. Prime Minister Viktor Orban's right-wing party, Fidesz, was able to withstand the pressure thanks to the support of the European People's Party and the underlying fears of EU member states about conceding sovereignty to Brussels. The restrictive media law was a barometer of a wider pattern of deteriorating press freedom. Opposition media faced financial pressure as most public and private advertising went to pro-government outlets. The government-controlled Media Council sought to award the FM frequency of Klubrádió, a leading opposition station, to a rival broadcaster in a long-running battle that was pending in late year. While segments of private media remain critical, public broadcasting was under tight government control.

February 14, 2013 12:05 AM ET

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.

Blog   |   Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Netherlands, Romania, UK

Greek far-right party casts shadow on Europe press freedom

The celebration Tuesday of the 50th anniversary of the Association of European Journalists (AEJ) should have been a joyful and lighthearted affair. Dozens of journalists from all parts of the European Union had traveled to Brussels to share memories, new projects, champagne, and petits fours.

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