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Media authority head dismisses press allegations related to MEP delegation’s visit

The head of Hungary's media authority, Andras Koltay, has dismissed an article by Hungarian daily Nepszava claiming that a delegation of MEPs that recently visisted Budapest had concluded in a report that media independence was being stamped out in the country.

The National Media and Communications Authority (NMHH) head said in a statement that Nepszava was professionally obliged to contact him and give him the opportunity to express his point of view before publishing the article, but had failed to live up to “generally recognised professional standards of media ethics”.

Koltay said it was ironic that the delegation had sought to promote a free and independent media while selectively leaking parts of its report, resulting in “the unscrupulous distortion of facts”. He accused the delegation of breaching rules for the adoption of reports by selectively releasing it to a section of the media.

Koltay said he could not comment on the content of the report itself because he had not received it. “I trust the material will officially reach us sooner or later,” he said.

He said that notwithstanding the “polite tone” of his discussions with the MEPs, “media independence is far too complex to be used as a political axe to grind on the level of slogans”.

Koltay said one member of the 6-8-strong delegation had tried to persuade him “to take a stand on political issues that were not related to the work of the media authority”. He said the MEP had directed personal comments in broken English at the end of the meeting. Koltay said he had been “surprised” by this violation of diplomatic protocol, adding that Nepszava had written a distorted version of this exchange which amounted to a “lie”.

“I wonder if these methods are among the means that the EP delegation wants to use to strengthen media freedom and independence? It is worrying,” he added.

Koltay also rejected an allegation in the newspaper’s report that he had asked the delegation not to visit Hungary in the future. “On the contrary, I would encourage them to visit as often as possible in the hope that this may advance mutual understanding.”


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