“The combined effects of a politically controlled media regulatory authority and distortionary state intervention in the media market have eroded media pluralism and freedom of expression in Hungary”, said the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović, in a new Memorandum.
To reverse the situation, the media legislation must be amended to divide the excessive powers of the President of the Media Authority between several autonomous bodies and limit the discretion of the Media Council. “Hungary needs to comply in law and in practice with Council of Europe standards on media pluralism and show due regard for the editorial independence of all public and private media”, said the Commissioner.
She further calls on the Hungarian authorities to recognise the threat hate speech against journalists represents to society as a whole, to condemn publicly all incidents of it, and to put an end to the spread of smear campaigns and misinformation about civil society organisations, human rights defenders and those who criticise the government.
The Commissioner also underlines the need for free political debate ahead of the 2022 parliamentary elections and calls on the Hungarian authorities to ensure a level playing field for all candidates, including in terms of media coverage.