15 Apr 2021 Lvl. 2
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Alert created on: 15 Apr 2021 n° 68/2021 Hungary

Hungarian Public Broadcaster MTV Attacks Austrian Journalist for "Provocative Questions"

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
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Media freedom groups condemned Hungary for a serious attack on media freedom after the national TV broadcaster, Magyar Televízió (MTV), broadcast a tirade of insults against an Austrian journalist in a news broadcast.

A three-minute segment of the news aired on 7 April on MTV’s main TV channel, M1, questioned the integrity and professionalism of Franziska Tschinderle, a correspondent for “profil” news magazine. It featured a set of emails she had sent to MEPs of Hungary’s ruling Fidesz party asking about their future affiliation in the European parliament after the group quit the EPP faction in the European Parliament last month. Images of the emails were shown on screen and the journalist was mocked for asking “ridiculous and amateurish” questions to “provoke” the Fidesz politicians. Austria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alexander Schallenberg, protested to his Hungarian counterpart, Peter Szijjarto, at what he called “an unreasonable and totally disproportionate attack”. In response, the Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs used social media to scorn a liberal journalist spreading “fake news”.

Reporters without Borders (RSF) accused the Hungarian government of using MTV as an extension of its power to discredit a journalist and stifle critical journalism, and demanded an apology from the broadcaster. The Association of European Journalists (AEJ) condemned the broadcast as an outrageous attempt to humiliate and damage the reputation of a professional journalist. Tschinderle wrote that the incident showed a worsening of Hungary’s hostility to critical reporting, as merely asking questions could be a pretext for malicious attack against a journalist.

Key information :

Franziska Tschinderle

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