Updated: International Reports on Hungary Media Freedom

  • 27 Nov 2023 6:38 AM
  • Hungary Matters
Updated: International Reports on Hungary Media Freedom
Hungary’s media and the issue of media freedom have been factually misrepresented by various international organisations and their “biased” and methodologically flawed reports, Hungary’s media authority NMHH said.

NMHH welcomed in a statement all initiatives to assess Hungarian media freedom but said that professional and methodological concerns had been raised in connection with several such reports and rankings.

A review of various international organisations’ reports since 2011 revealed that the rankings applied questionable methodologies and, in several instances, only a few experts had been interviewed, resulting in poorly founded arguments, while in many cases positive developments were left unmentioned, the NMHH said.

In several instances, the same comments were included in the various annual reports despite the fact that the figures had changed in the meantime, such as in a 2017 report of the EU-supported Media Pluralism Monitor showing 75% score for access to media for minorities as against 25% in the previous year, the statement said.

The 2021 Media Pluralism Monitor called Hungary to account regarding implementation of an EU regulation that was only approved in 2022, it added. A Freedom House report on media freedom in 2011 stated that the National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information would restrict the freedom of information even before the authority was set up, the NMHH said.

It was also questionable whether groups of writers and experts involved in the preparation of reports were sufficiently diverse or balanced, the authority said. In several instances when it came to Media Pluralism Reports the writers were all from a single university department or news desk, while independent experts were not allowed to properly contribute to the final assessment.

Reports by Freedom House about the freedom of the internet were done by a single staff member of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union TASZ, which NMHH said was an organisation “hardly known for its unbiased criticism” of the government. Reporters Without Borders did not even offer any information about the writers of the reports, it added.

The NMHH report available on the organisation’s website lists further examples. “The authority trusts that with its constructive critiscism, it will contribute to more professionally well-founded and balanced reports, better reflecting reality, to be published about Hungary’s media situation in the future,” it added.

Media Authority: FH Report on Hungary Internet Freedom 'One-Sided, Has Methodological Shortcomings'

Freedom House’s latest report on internet freedom in Hungary shows similar “one-sidedness and methodological shortcomings” seen in recent years, Hungary’s media authority NMHH said.

The authority said it had carried out an analysis of Freedom House’s Freedom on the Net 2023 report with a view to providing feedback and assisting the objective evaluation of the issues being examined. It said the report reflected methodological shortcomings and contained inaccuracies.

NMHH said Hungary’s unchanged score of 69 of 100 and “partly free” status had once again been based on the evaluation of a single staff member of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union TASZ, who was also the author of the report on Hungary.

NMHH said that despite the acknowledgments in connection with internet access, net neutrality and opportunities for entry to the telecommunications market, the sources cited in the report were those that were “biased in their criticism” in connection with the state of the media landscape in Hungary.

It added that the report presented unsupported subjective opinions while failing to present opposing views. NMHH also criticised the report for covering events in connection with media diversity that fall outside the period of June 2022-May 2023, such as the temporary closure of the Magyar Nemzet daily in 2018.

It said the sources cited were often outdated, such as a 2007 document referenced in connection with internet access among various parts of society.

The report, NMHH added, contained several inaccuracies requiring correction, such as assertions regarding the media authority’s independence.

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