Why we Need to Keep the Pressure on Hungary
On July 1st Hungary hands over the Presidency of European Union and from that moment the Government in Budapest will hope the world will forget all about the shameful media law that has cast a shadow over its six month reign in Europe’s top job.
The law is a shocker. It sets up a politically-driven media council with powers to fine journalists and with instructions to force media to be “balanced.” The Government uses the law to oversee the registration, licensing and sanctioning of all print, broadcasting and online media.
It caused a storm of protest both inside and outside the country and even European Union bureaucrats in Brussels called for changes in the law. They forced the Government of Victor Orban to make some limited amendments.
Now the government will hope that with the Brussels bandwagon moving on to Poland they can retreat into the European shadows, but the law will still be in place.
Press freedom groups and media people at the IFEX meeting in Beirut should not allow that to happen. The campaign against this law needs to be stepped up, not allowed to fade away. There’s a need to develop a fresh strategy, one that will deliver an alternative and more positive approach not only for Hungary, but also for policymakers in many other countries on the EU’s eastern fringe. But how will that be done? There’s a meeting on June 2nd in Beirut that aims to come up with some ideas.