Human Rights Watch, Greta Thunberg on Hungarian State Media Watch List

According to Politico, Hungarian state media’s staff need permission to report on Greta Thunberg and EU politics and are banned from covering reports from leading human rights organizations, among them Human Rights Watch.

Screenshots of internal emails detailing instructions to state media staff, all dating from the second half of 2019, were sent anonymously to Politico. The emails reveal state media editors are provided with lists of sensitive topics. Draft versions of content related to these topics must be sent for approval from higher up.

The list of sensitive topics that require special consent include migration, European terror, Brussels, church issues, as well as parliamentary, presidential and local elections in the European Union and a selection of neighboring countries, the report says citing an October email signed by senior editor Sándor Végh.

The emails come from senior editors who work for an organization with responsibility for state media outlets such as the state news agency MTI and multiple television and radio stations.

The emails also confirm that, as reported previously by Hungarian daily Népszava, an explicit order was issued preventing state media employees from mentioning reports by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch in their coverage.

Editorial responsibility for state media formally rests with an organization called the Duna Media Service Provider, said Ágnes Urbán, an expert at Mérték Media Monitor, a Hungarian NGO that campaigns for media freedom.

In Hungary, The Media Service Support and Asset Management Fund (MTVA), wields significant influence over media content. International media watchdogs have criticized the country’s state media as lacking in transparency.

MTVA said their state media follows the standards of the BBC.

About Catherine Smith

Catherine Smith is a newcomer to Washington D.C. She met, and married an American journalist and moved to D.C from the U.K. She graduated with a B.A in Graphic, Media and Communications and worked in design and retail in the U.K.

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

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