BHHRG

About BHHRG

The British Helsinki Human Rights Group monitors human rights and democracy in the 57 OSCE member states from the United States to Central Asia.
* Monitoring the conduct of elections in OSCE member states.
* Examining issues relating to press freedom and freedom of speech
* Reporting on conditions in prisons and psychiatric institutions

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Hungary 2001: The Hungarian Media Today
HITS: 2201 | 12-03-2002, 19:35 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Hungary, Media World, Politics

A new report by the International Federation of Journalists is highly critical of the media situation in Hungary. BHHRG considers the allegations behind the report and asks whether the Czech scenario could be repeated in Budapest.
Introduction
Following the successful rebellion at the state television in the Czech Republic (see BHHRG report Turmoil at Czech Television) there have been numerous suggestions that similar disruptions will follow in Hungary. In particular, the International Federation of Journalists, which supported the rebels in Prague, has issued a report harshly criticising the state of the media there ("Television on the Brink: the political and professional crisis of public broadcasting in Hungary"). As the sudden flare-up in Prague shows, events can occur very quickly and their speed helps to obscure the real issues at stake. BHHRG representatives, therefore, travelled to Budapest to investigate the media situation in Hungary.
In the Czech republic, the sudden way in which the rebellion against the appointment of George Hodac as the new director of Czech TV broke out managed to obscure the fact that the real issues at stake were different from that which was reported in the Western media. As the BHHRG report shows, it owed little to any urge to ensure free speech and instead a lot to the desire to prevent restructuring of Czech TV and a proper financial audit being conducted into its rambling financial affairs. In Prague, there was also the additional ingredient of President Havel, who supported the strikers and whose penchant for "non-political politics" helped to change the system by which the TV council is composed, removing representatives nominated by political parties. These two elements - unclear finances and the role of political parties in the TV and radio councils - are both present in Hungary. This is why the forces who supported the putsch against Hodac in Prague may also think that similar results can be obtained in Budapest.

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