Hungary | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status


Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


The constitution provides for freedom of press and the variety of news outlets is evidence of a pluralistic media environment. However, state authorities and contending political interest groups continue their efforts to influence media, especially through public broadcasting. An ongoing debate centers on the allocation of members selected to serve on the National Television and Radio Board (ORTT), the body that regulates the country's media; the former governing party and now the largest opposition group, Fidesz, walked out on two meetings in March in protest at the nominating and election procedures. Public television attracts only about 10 percent of viewers. The six public television and radio stations continue to receive disproportionate funding from state resources, despite nearing bankruptcy several times and a ruling from the Constitutional Court stating that public television should be independent in operations and finance. Hungarians receive information primarily from private TV channels, most of which are foreign owned. The concentration of foreign ownership in the national press is also high; 7 out of 10 national dailies and all local dailies are foreign owned. The successful launch of the private, Hungarian-owned news channel, HIR TV, in 2002 and its marked profit in 2003 challenges the argument that state-supported media are necessary to provide balanced coverage. In October, the notion of freedom of speech was challenged when the Hungarian Television Corporation announced that it would halt the broadcast of a program that had previously aired an interview with a controversial British historian who denies the Holocaust. A rally was held outside the station to re-institute the program; however, at year's end it was still banned.