Sunday

23rd Feb 2020

Letter

MDIF responds to Orban criticism

  • Reporters Without Borders 2019 report found that press freedom in Viktor Orban's Hungary has fallen below that of Sierra Leone (Photo: European People's Party - Flickr)

In his response to my op-ed on media capture, Dr Zoltan Kovacs does not even try to refute my main point about Hungary: that most Hungarian news media have been captured by the state, and that this anti-democratic trend is spreading across Eastern Europe.

At the same time, he nicely demonstrates his government's refusal to tolerate criticism.

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The familiar Soros smokescreen is part of the Viktor Orban playbook and Dr Kovacs deploys it in an attempt to hide that he leaves my main point unanswered.

And it is indeed undeniable that Fidesz's business allies took control of and then gifted almost 500 outlets to a government-supporting foundation. Nor can he deny that there is now not a single nationwide radio channel nor daily print newspaper that is fully independent of government.

MDIF is transparent about its many funders and investors who share our mission. We are entirely open about our agenda: we invest in independent media companies dedicated to fact-based reporting, with a commitment to political pluralism, government accountability and the rule of law.

There is no need to take my word for the decline of media freedom in Hungary.

It is well-documented, for example by Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders, which found in its 2019 report that press freedom in Hungary has fallen below that of Sierra Leone.

I think that deplorable statistic is a matter that is truly deserving of Dr Kovacs' attention.

Author bio

Harlan Mandel is chief executive officer of the Media Development Investment Fund.

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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