Reporters Without Borders has updated its World Press Freedom Index, ranking Hungary three places lower than last year, and describing the state of Hungary’s media freedom as the EU’s “alternative, repressive model.” Government official Zoltán Kovács reacted to the ranking on Twitter, describing the NGO as a “Soros-funded group” that makes “false, idiotic claims.”
The international non-governmental organization, known for highlighting levels of media freedom and criticizing censorship, recently shared its 2021 World Press Freedom Index.
Unfortunately, Hungary now ranks 92nd globally, following Lesotho, Moldova, North Macedonia, and Peru. The only European Union country in a worse position is Bulgaria, ranked 112th. The countries considered to have the most media freedom are Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark, while those with the least media freedom include China, Turkmenistan, North Korea, and Eritrea.
RSF described the state of Hungary’s media in the sense of the EU’s “alternative, repressive model.” They said that the Orbán government took advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to “extend its hegemony” over Hungarian media.
According to the NGO, the emergency powers given to Fidesz to handle the pandemic allowed it to threaten journalists with prosecution for spreading fake news and “blocking the government’s anti-pandemic efforts.”
RSF said that the Hungarian Media Council damaged media pluralism because of its political decisions, which included taking away Klubrádió’s frequency. The organization considers the government’s takeover of Index.hu to be the most “spectacular development in 2020.”
Media1.hu brought up that in 2009, Hungary had placed 25th globally on the same index. Over the course of the three Orbán governments, however, it has fallen 67 ranks.
Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Relations Zoltán Kovács reacted to the results on twitter, “surprised” by the organization he describes as the “Soros-funded group that last year called [Hungary’s] state of emergency law.”
Kovács added, Regarding Hungary’s rule of law, that RSF made “false, idiotic claims” based on “local political activist sources.”
Featured photo illustration via Zoltán Kovács’s Facebook page