March 3rd, 2012

In Hungary, media freedom is a reality, not a myth

Anyone with a genuine interest can see on the ground that the Hungarian media are as diverse as ever, and opposition voices abound. The writers suggested that CNN was dropped by one of the major cable companies because of government pressure. Senior management of that company, which is majority-owned by Deutsche Telekom, categorically denied this and said that it was a purely financial decision. Contrary to the writers’ claims, Klubradio, a station airing opposition voices, lost one of its regional frequencies in a transparent tender by offering less money than its competitors did. The decision was appealed, and the case is before the courts. Meanwhile, the radio station stays on the air.

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  • IKE

    It’s just more government spin. It can’t happen
    because it hasn’t happened. But the government
    and more specifically the Viktorites have the
    power to restrict freedom of the press.

  • Borat

    This is a classic ‘hand got caught in the cookie jar’, and now they are doing damange control, by spinning lies.

    Imagine if Hungary was not in the EU, and there was no international media attention? ATV, Klubradio would already have been shut down. And Bajnai, Gyurcsány, Osko, Konyha and the rest of them would be in jail for trumped up charges, by Budai.

  • Zsolt

    “And Bajnai, Gyurcsány, Osko, Konyha and the rest of them would be in jail for trumped up charges, by Budai.”

    Oh how great that would be.:)

    • Borat

      You make light of human rights. But what if it was you?

    • spectator

      Yeah, indeed..!

      And your life would become just wonderful overnight, all problems in the whole country would be solved by this, no doubt. Even Mr.Matolcsi’s great financial ideas would start working, all his dream will come true, just like this, and Hungary would be respected and prosperous, as soon as they locked up.!

      Great!
      Go for it, don’t waste a second when the solution is this simple, the country is in dire need!

  • Paul

    http://blog.freedomhouse.org/weblog/2011/12/press-freedom-a-loser-in-viktor-orb%C3%A1ns-winner-take-all-hungary.html#more

    “Since the legislation was passed, detailed criticisms have been addressed to the Hungarian government by an impressive roster of neutral authorities: the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the Media Representative of the OSCE, the United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of expression, and many leading press freedom and human rights organizations”.

    Oh my…they all got it wrong…they overlooked Ronald Reagan’s statue.

  • Paul

    Quote Freedom House 2011 about freedom of speech in Hungary:
    “Since the legislation was passed, detailed criticisms have been addressed to the Hungarian government by an impressive roster of neutral authorities: the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the Media Representative of the OSCE, the United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of expression, and many leading press freedom and human rights organizations”.

    Oh my…they all got it wrong…they overlooked Ronald Reagan’s statue.

  • Szabad Ember

    In order to dismiss the claims about Klubrádio, Fidesz’s man in Washington employs a very sly trick, admitting to one part of the saga, but ignoring the rest. This would only work on casual investors, those who haven’t read anything on the subject.

    One could also mention that Italy, arguably, recently had more restricted press than Hungary, since Berlusconi owned or controlled virtually all the television news in the country. The problem with that argument is that Fidesz has only just begun to take control of the media. Given enough latitude and time, any independent, unbiased outlets left in Hungary would be self-censoring like news outlets in Russia and China. The point is to keep it from progressing to that extreme, or even any further than it already has.

  • Leto.

    The Klubrádió case is just a weapon in the infowar on Hungary.
    This is well summed up here:

    -http://www.infowars.com/regime-change-express-surges-toward-budapest/

    “Orban’s other divergences from “democracy” according to the European Commission and the US administration include using his mandate to bring the Hungarian central bank under the oversight of elected officials rather than remain the purview of highly-paid bureaucrats who more often than not do the bidding of their foreign counterparts at the expense of those who pay their salaries. It is not quite an “end the Fed” movement in Hungary but it certainly could be seen as a move to curb the seemingly limitless power of an unelected Hungarian Ben Bernanke.

    As financial expert Andrea Hosso observed regarding claims of Orban “threatening the independence” of the central bank:

    “How independent is the US Federal Reserve with its consecutive bouts of Quantitative Easing, or the European Central Bank with its new venture into buying up hundreds of billions of Eurozone bonds to keep the big project afloat?”
    No wonder the Obama administration is irritated.

    It is particularly rich to see the European Commission threatening legal action against the Hungarian government unless it “return to democracy” by overturning laws such as the above curb on the power of the central bank and a new mandatory retirement age for judges. The European Commission, that paragon of democracy, is as we know an entirely unelected body that meets and votes in secret.

    Unfortunately for him in this instance, Orban’s tendency to shoot from the hip can come back to haunt him. After declaring last year that no new IMF assistance was needed, Orban’s government experienced what seems to some a concerted effort to bring the country to its knees — to bow before the IMF and international finance. Bond yields soared, Moody’s downgraded the government’s debt to junk status, and the forint has lost 15% of its value. Orban sent Fellegi to Washington, tail between legs, to have his pound of flesh extracted by IMF managing director Christine Lagarde.

    Not so fast, said the unelected Lagarde last week. First Hungary must change several of its domestic laws and renew its commitment to democracy. Then the price of a bailout to Hungary’s creditors will be a new austerity program on its population. It seems the government is in a panic and will agree to anything for IMF assistance, but they would do well to have a look at Greece, where IMF “reform” is producing its usual results.

    As if by design in these situations, the demanded austerity programs will make the ruling regime (who the West wants to change) extremely unpopular. A shocked and bewildered population will take to the streets demanding a change in regime, assisted by the generous support — and intoxicating lies — provided by the US regime change experts NED, NDI, and, IRI. Violence may ensue, sovereignty will be destroyed, and the Western-preferred malleable descendents of the old regime will sweep back into power.”

    • Georgia

      No one is forcing the PM to go to the IMF. He can simply disregard them, fire Simor, and spend the central bank reserves which is plenty to go around.

      • Leto.

        Sure, no one…
        BTW, it may well be that Hungary would escape the IMP-trap. Your comrades are worrying a lot indeed that in fact Hungary is pulling a Turkey… :D
        -http://www.nasdaq.com/article/hungary-opposition-sees-government-stalling-in-euimf-talks-20120228-00679

        • Georgia

          Leto, I have no comrades. :-( People don’t like me because I refuse to pick sides, or bend to propaganda without facts. But I guess my personal problems are off topic, sorry.

          However, I do agree with you that it might be a Turky ahead. it would in a way make sense. Collect as much funds as possible selling bonds, the turn around and introduce some more laws, and go for the rest of the private pension that remains, and Simors central bank money. Aster all the central bank has a lot of Euro, correct me if I’m wrong, it’s something like 2-3 times the national debt.

          • Szabad Ember

            @Georgia

            I’m pretty sure that the number I heard for the central bank’s reserves is only about 30 billion, much, much less than the national debt. I don’t have time to look it up, but I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to find.

          • mchungary

            @Szabad Ember

            I believe that is 36ish Billion Euro in the Simor Bank. I hope it has extra insurance against constiutions being rewritten…

    • Georgia

      Of course, I don’t recommend it, because the Forint would go sky high vs the Euro.

  • DoubleH63

    @Georgia

    “People don’t like me because I refuse to pick sides”

    Spectator #2! I bet you are also a humanist, eh?

  • Georgia

    I’m sorry, I’m Georgia, and not really humanist. I just believe that as longs there are two people on earth there will always be a disagreement. :-)

  • pityu

    This excerpt left out the best part of Szapary’s letter:

    “Presenting a make-believe picture of Hungarian reality benefits no one but the extreme right-wing party Jobbik. The Hungarian left, which drove the economy to near-bankruptcy, is now in shambles because of the profound disillusionment of the voters. Like it or not, the bulwark against extremism is provided by the current democratic, conservative government.”

    translation: if you criticize us, it only helps the extremists! So keep your mouths shut if you don’t want something even worse.

    That “like it or not” part is a nice touch. It’s the literary equivalent of a middle finger to the rest of the world.

    • Leto.

      Don’t take “the rest of the world” for your kind, please.

      • pityu

        I’m not sure what you mean by that…

  • Frankly Franklin

    Hahaha… No worries. media here will collapse as soon as all the players involved realize their subsidies were all they had to keep them in business. You need advertising to stay in that biz, and picking the wrong venue will definitely get you punished economically in Hungary. Not only that, but the costs generally exceed the revenues in many cases, according to recent reporting.

    Not to mention how stupidly bad non-media Hungarians are about promotional costs. “Hurr Durrr… I has internets and Facebookses. Advertisering is Frrrreeeeeeee! Hurrrrr” One year later, “ZARVA.” Hahaha! Thank goodness none of the successful businesses paid for their properties or the whole economy would have collapsed by now!

    • Szabad Ember

      @Frankly

      I hope you’re right, but it seems that the people who buy media in Hungary are not looking to make a profit, and are willing to lose a lot of money in order to be able to stifle criticism and mislead the Hungarian electorate.

      Or maybe I misunderstood your point?

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