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Freedom House Still Sees Room For Improvement In Hungary’s Media Freedom

Tamás Székely 2015.04.30.

Freedom House (FH) slightly downgraded Hungary and said the country’s media is still “partly free” in its global press freedom report for 2014 released on Wednesday. The Washington-based independent NGO ranked Hungary 71st on its global list of 197 countries, with a press freedom score of 37 on a scale of 100. FH’s 2013 report also ranked Hungary 71st, then with a press freedom score of 35. FH put Hungary in the “partly free” category for the fourth consecutive year.

According to  Freedom House, press freedom deteriorated slightly in Hungary as the government imposed a new advertising tax and continued to pressure media owners. The new ad tax disproportionately affected RTL Klub, one of the two major commercial television channels, which was the only company that fell into the highest tax bracket, the FH report said. However, a proposed “internet tax,” which would have levied a charge against data transferred online, was defeated in October after opponents mounted large-scale demonstrations, it added.

Hungary’s constitution protects freedom of speech and of the press, but complex and extensive media legislation adopted in 2010 is widely deemed to have undermined these guarantees, FH insisted. According to the report Hungary remained a country of concern in 2014, as the “administration of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán continued to exert pressure on media owners to influence coverage.” FH’s report has also recalled that dozens of media workers protested the dismissal of the editor in chief of origo.hu, a news website, after it published an article on alleged misuse of state funds.

via freedomhouse.org and hungarymatters.hu photo: aej-bulgaria.org