Christmas present for journalists on hunger strike: a fence
December 26, 2011
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A bit off topic, but important if you want to know what’s going on in Hungary: Balázs Nagy Navarro and his colleagues have been on hunger strike for more than two weeks now in front of the main building of the Hungarian State Television. Nagy Navarro has already in earlier years spoken up whenever politics tried to influence the media, and he went on hunger strike when the state tv earlier this month blurred out the head of former head of the supreme court Mr Zoltán Lomnici when he happened to walk past Mr László Tőkés, a reformed bishop and vice-president of the European Parliament, who was interviewed by the tv. Ironically, Mr Lomnici (who is said to be blacklisted by the state tv) attended the very same event the interview was about:
Just before Christmas, the State Television put a loud-speaker above the protesters looping day and night two songs (one of them a Jingle Bells version). During the nights they switched on reflectors (for security reasons, they said), and on Christmas Eve, they tried to put a fence around the protesters. An MP of the green party (LMP) finally decided to call the police.
The hunger strike was in part successful: after a first disciplinary procedure put all fault with the cutter, as the result of a second one the head of the news department of the State controlled news agency (MTI) was dismissed. One of his deputies, Dániel Papp who became famous at the beginning of this year when he distorted a report on MEP Daniel Cohn-Bendit, lost his post as deputy news director but can keep his post as head of the public interest programmes department, while the other received a warning only.
Hungary became notorious for its media law especially after the government happened to provide a not quite exact English translation of it. The law had some minor parts declared unconstitutional these days by the constitutional court, but even so it practically puts journalists and bloggers at the mercy of a newly created media council („Médiatanács”) led by Annamária Szalai for a period of 9 years. However, no procedures against journalists have been started yet under this law. Instead, all journalists who write critically have been removed from the state media. A few days ago, Klubradio, the only radio station with many talk programmes critical of government policies and with a big audience, lost is frequency. The tender for Klubradio’s frequency preferred bidders who play music most of the time instead of talking about politics.
Video: Interview with Balázs Nagy Navarro