Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President, European Commission
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner, European Commission
Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner, European Commission
Antonio Tajani, President, European Parliament
7 August 2018
OPEN LETTER – Media freedom in Hungary and the case of Hir TV
The undersigned media freedom organisations are writing to draw your attention to the deteriorating situation of press and media freedom in Hungary, in particular the recent case of Hir TV.
Hir TV was the last domestically-owned independent TV company in Hungary. On 1 August 2018 a sudden change in ownership resulted in dismissals of outspoken leading journalists and an abrupt change of editorial policy. Programmes that had previously reflected independent views were cancelled and replaced with government-friendly programmes. One cancelled talk show was replaced with a broadcast of a speech that Viktor Orbán had made some days earlier.
The case of Hir TV has been reported to Index on Censorship’s platform Mapping Media Freedom, which monitors threats, limitations and violations related to media freedom in Europe.
The loss of independence of the last remaining domestically owned TV company in Hungary is deeply discouraging. It demonstrates a fundamental lack of respect for media freedom and shows how far Hungary has distanced itself from European values.
We ask you to condemn these developments in the strongest possible terms.
We strongly urge the European Union to strengthen the link between eligibility for funding under the next Multiannual Financial Framework and respect for media freedom.
European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
Index on Censorship
International Press Institute (IPI)
South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO)