From the media release of EFJ, the European Federation of Journalists:
EFJ Warns of Collapse of Journalism as a Public Good in Hungary
A delegation of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the European group of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today told reporters in Budapest that the media law which has been enacted earlier in the year threatens the survival of journalism as a public good in the country. The EFJ delegation held a press conference in the Hungarian capital where it holding round-table discussions with professional representatives and media experts.
“We are appalled by the anxiety and the uncertainties among the profession,” said Roberto Natale, member of the EFJ Steering Committee and president of the Italian journalists’ union (FNSI). “Public media were put under the umbrella of a single organisation which lacks transparency, social dialogue and editorial independence”.
A delegation of nine representatives of EFJ member organisations also met with representatives of the newly created Hungarian Broadcast Support and Asset Management Fund (MTVA) to start a regular dialogue with them.
These meetings came after the new media law entered into force and is being now fully implemented since 1st July 2011 and as journalists are facing massive redundancy plans.
“Hundreds of jobs are threatened in public media and the new media law is putting terrible pressure on editorial independence,” said the Chairman of the EFJ broadcasting expert group John Barsby. “We are in a battle for freedom of information, truth, pluralism and democracy. It is a battle that the people of Hungary cannot afford to see lost.”
Over 500 of the total 3400 staff members at the four state-run media companies – Magyar Rádió, MTV, Duna TV and MTI have already been sacked and hundreds more jobs are under threat.
The EFJ is calling for investing in public media to enhance quality and standards in journalism for the public good.
“Instead of cutting resources and try to defend unclear Hungarian values in programmes, it is the responsibility of the authorities to guarantee the financing of public media precisely to support quality journalism as a public good,” says the EFJ. “We call on journalists and civil society groups across Europe to support Hungarian journalists in their struggle by signing the SOS Hungary petition recently launched by the Austrian union of journalists GPA.”
The Federation has also urged the European institutions to defend press freedom and public service values of journalism in Hungary, and wherever it is necessary in Europe.
The EFJ represents more than 250.000 members in over 30 countries.
The “SOS Hungary” petition written to their government by the Austrian union of journalists can be viewed here (a German and an English language version are both available).