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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, right, gestures as he walks past journalists after talks in Warsaw, Poland, in September 2017. A joint mission to Hungary in November 2019 found that the government has pursued a strategy to silence the country's press. (AP/Alik Keplicz)

Hungary’s media control unprecedented in EU, joint mission finds

December 3, 2019 3:06 PM ET

Since 2010, the Hungarian government has achieved a degree of media control unprecedented in an EU member state, seven international organizations, including the Committee to Protect Journalists, said in a statement released today. The organizations urged the EU “to take all available measures to respond.”

From November 25 to 27, a delegation of press freedom groups met with Hungarian journalists and civil society organizations in Budapest and other cities to gather information about the situation for the country’s media. The delegation also met with Zoltán Kovács, the international spokesperson of the Hungarian government, and Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony.

In recent years, CPJ has documented how the government has systematically dismantled media independence and used verbal attacks, lawsuits and other means to harass critical journalists in Hungary.

The mission found that while journalists are at less risk of the physical violence or imprisonment common in autocratic regimes elsewhere, the Hungarian government has pursued a strategy to silence the press with the forcible closure or government takeover of the once-independent media, and the delegitimization of journalists. “The construction of a pro-government media empire serves as a vast propaganda machine for the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, insulating large parts of the public from access to critical news and information so as to maintain the Fidesz party’s hold on power,” the joint mission found.

Read the full statement here.

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