Media authority: International reports on Hungary media freedom ‘biased’
NMHH welcomed in a statement all initiatives to assess Hungarian media freedom but said that professional and methodological concerns had been raised in connection with several such reports and rankings.
A review of various international organisations’ reports since 2011 revealed that the rankings applied questionable methodologies and, in several instances, only a few experts had been interviewed, resulting in poorly founded arguments, while in many cases positive developments were left unmentioned, the NMHH said.
In several instances, the same comments were included in the various annual reports despite the fact that the figures had changed in the meantime, such as in a 2017 report of the EU-supported Media Pluralism Monitor showing 75 percent score for access to media for minorities as against 25 percent in the previous year, the statement said. The 2021 Media Pluralism Monitor called Hungary to account regarding implementation of an EU regulation that was only approved in 2022, it added.
A Freedom House report on media freedom in 2011 stated that the National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information would restrict the freedom of information even before the authority was set up, the NMHH said.
It was also questionable whether groups of writers and experts involved in the preparation of reports were sufficiently diverse or balanced, the authority said. In several instances when it came to Media Pluralism Reports the writers were all from a single university department or news desk, while independent experts were not allowed to properly contribute to the final assessment.
Reports by Freedom House about the freedom of the internet were done by a single staff member of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union TASZ, which NMHH said was an organisaiton “hardly known for its unbiased criticism” of the government. Reporters Without Borders did not even offer any information about the writers of the reports, it added.
The NMHH report available on the organisation’s website lists further examples.
“The authority trusts that with its constructive critiscism, it will contribute to more professionally well-founded and balanced reports, better reflecting reality, to be published about Hungary’s media situation in the future,” it added.