Dismissal of Index News Website Editor further Constricts Media Independence
In a joint statement they said the conditions for Index’s independent operations were no longer in place. They called the firing of their editor “clear interference” and an overt attempt to apply pressure. Earlier this year a pro-government businessman acquired significant control over Index’s funding. Laszlo Bodalai, the president of the board of the website’s owners, denied that Index’s political independence was at risk and referred to a decline in advertising revenues as a reason for the dismissal.
European Commission Vice President Vera Jourova reacted to the removal of Szabolcs Dull by declaring that she had “big concerns” and expressing her solidarity with the staff of Index who she said had worked under “very difficult conditions”.
In late 2018 a Media Pluralism Monitor report published by the European Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom assessed the risk related to the lack of political independence of media in Hungary, in terms of the state regulation of resources and support to the media sector, as having an acute high-risk score of 97%. The risk to editorial autonomy of the country's media was also assessed with a high risk score of 88%.
- Euronews article: "Index: More than 80 journalists resign from Hungarian news site after editor sacked"
- EFJ article: "In Hungary EU funds are used to finance pro-government media"
- Letter sent to EU leaders by MFRR partners: "Hungary media freedom crackdown: our letter to EU leaders"
- EFJ statement: "Hungary: journalists at Index resign, EU must take action"
- AEJ statement: "AEJ protests against the destruction of Hungary’s independent 'Index' news portal"
- CMPF report: "Assessing certain recent developments in the Hungarian media market through the prism of the Media Pluralism Monitor"