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RSF: Orbán Only European Union Leader on “Press Freedom Predators” List

Ábrahám Vass 2021.07.05.

Hungary’s Prime Minister has been named among the Press Freedom’s Predators on a fresh list compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Viktor Orbán “has not stopped, since returning to power in 2010, from attacking media pluralism and independence,” in RSF’s view. According to a Fidesz MEP, RSF is a Soros-ist organization joining the latest wave of attacks insulting Hungary.

Viktor Orbán, a self-proclaimed champion of “illiberal democracy,” is listed among the “new entrants,” along with, for example, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro and Saudi Arabian crown prince Mohammed bin Salman.

According to RSF’s comment, he “has not stopped, since returning to power in 2010, from attacking media pluralism and independence. After public broadcasting was turned into a propaganda organ, private media were subjugated or reduced to silence. The methods may be subtle or brazen, but they are always efficient. Thanks to political-economic maneuvers and the purchase of media companies by oligarchs close to Fidesz, the ruling party, it now controls 80 per cent of the country’s media landscape. At the top is the KESMA foundation, which owns approximately 500 pro-government media organizations. The remaining independent media are discriminated against in government advertising and access to official information. Their journalists are systematically denigrated in pro-government media, which call them purveyors of “fake news.” This charge was made a criminal offence during the Covid-19 crisis, with the effect of self-censorship on journalists and their sources. These varied predatory techniques have proved so effective that they have inspired Orbán’s Polish and Slovenian allies.”

The site further highlights some examples, such as the closing of Népszabadság, and “oligarchs’ assumption of control over news sites Origo.hu and Index.hu.” It also highlights the “latest move,” “a political decision by the supposedly independent radio-television regulatory agency to deprive Klubrádió of its broadcast frequency.”

Budapest Municipal Court Rejects Klubrádió Appeal over 92.9 MHz
Budapest Municipal Court Rejects Klubrádió Appeal over 92.9 MHz

Klubrádió challenged the National Media and Communications Authority's decision in court in March, when the body closed a tender for the frequency without declaring a winner.Continue reading

RSF issued the list five years after the previous edition. 37 heads of state or government are included in total, “who crack down massively on press freedom” with ‘usual suspects’ such as Russian president Vladimir Putin, China’s President Xi Jinping, Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

Fidesz: Fake News Without Borders and Soros

“A Soros-ist organization called ‘Reporters Without Borders’ has joined the latest wave of attacks insulting Hungary. We have been waiting for them, I don’t really understand what they have been delayed with for weeks now” an MEP of ruling Fidesz commented.

Tamás Deutsch slammed RSF together with all the foreign journalist and reporters who, although living in luxury and freedom in Hungary, still hypocritically and permanently speak about “dictatorship, oppression, disenfranchisement, abolition of press freedom and all sorts of obvious foolishness.” In the Fidesz founder’s view, their daily lives in Budapest “are the harshest rebuttals of their daily, cheeky lies.”

Hungary can usually be found on RSF’s similarly-themed lists. In the 2021 World Press Freedom Index published in April, Hungary was ranked 92nd of 180 countries, following Lesotho, Moldova, North Macedonia, and Peru, with Bulgaria being the only EU country in a worse position.

featured image via Zoltán Máthé/MTI