On 18th November 2022, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Teresa Ribeiro payed an official visit to Hungary from 15 to 16 November 2022, during which she met with several government officials including Minister for Culture and Innovation János Csák, State Secretary for EU Affairs of the Ministry of Justice János Bóka, State Secretary for Security Policy and Political Director of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade Bunford Zsol, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Interior Bence Rétvári, State Secretary for International Communications and Relations of the Prime Minister’s Office Zoltán Kovács, as well as with Chair of the Cultural Committee of the Parliament László Pósán. The Representative also met with President András Koltay of the media regulator State Office of Media and Communications and with Director Dániel Papp of the Media Services and Support Trust Fund. During her visit, she had discussions with several journalists and representatives of civil society.
During her official visit to Hungary, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Teresa Ribeiro met with amongst others János Csák, Minister for Culture and Innovation
Ribeiro and her counterparts discussed the criticism by several international organization on media freedom in Hungary, including from the United Nations, the Council of Europe and the European Union. Ribeiro further raised specific concerns over the reported difficulties that independent media face accessing public information, including the fact that requests for public information are not dealt with in a timely manner by the respective authorities. Several government interlocutors mentioned recent legal changes that would shorten the period for responses to request for government information.
The Representative also pointed to shortcomings related to the independence of the public broadcaster, the governance of the media regulating bodies, and the current practice regarding the distribution of broadcasting licenses and state advertising money. Ribeiro also discussed the issue of surveillance (with spyware) of journalists – which has a profoundly chilling effect on journalists and their sources – including the fact that in some cases judicial oversight seems to be lacking.
“Taken together, all these issues result in a situation is not conducive to a vibrant and pluralistic media landscape. When looking at the media freedom situation in Hungary, a picture arises of a systemic approach in which some voices do not enjoy the same basic conditions to be heard,” Ribeiro said. “I reminded the authorities of the government’s obligation to ensure a truly pluralistic media ecosystem that allows journalists to scrutinise the work of those in power. I expressed the hope that remedial media-freedom-related measures to strengthen media pluralism in the country will be initiated and expressed my willingness to co-operate with them in enhancing the situation.”
Source: OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media
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