Last week Szabolcs Dull, editor of the important Hungarian newspaper Index.hu, was fired for talking about pressure from the Hungarian government on his newspaper, one of the few still independent in the country. On Friday, over 70 editorial staff members resigned after the board of directors refused to reinstate Dull as director; journalists from Index they also accused the government of interfering with press freedom and undermining the future of independent media.
For example Zoltán Varga, owner of the online newspaper 24.hu, which is the main competitor of Index, said the Hungarian government is trying to discredit its media company, the Central Media Group (Central Media Center).
Over the past decade, the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has progressively adopted increasingly authoritarian policies, among other things by taking control of the country’s independent media. Gradually, around 500 media companies, including online portals, local newspapers, radio and television channels, have been grouped into a foundation. According to Varga, the purpose of the foundation would be to make propaganda for the government.
Last March, the Hungarian parliament passed a law that allowed the government to pass laws in place of the parliament without time limits, and which also imposed a prison term for those who spread news considered false – then revoked in mid-June.
BBC he reported that the Hungarian public media “have stopped pretending to be impartial for a long time”, and Reporters Without Borders placed the country in 89th place out of 180 for freedom of the press. Also on Friday, in Budapest there was a demonstration in support of journalists from Index.