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EC vice president: Media pluralism in danger

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Neelie Kroes, Vice President of the European Commision in charge of digitilization, yesterday published a long post on the European Commission's blog criticizing Hungary's new advertising tax, as well as the general media environment in this country.

Reflecting on the recently introduced advertising tax, Kroes argues that the levy was “obviously” aimed at Hungary’s leading commercial TV channel RTL Klub because the channel is not “promoting a pro-Fidesz line”, unlike the majority of the other channels in the country. Kroes finds it to be “a part of a pattern that is deeply worrying” and “contrary to the EU’s values”.

The vice president also elaborates on the issue of the opposition Klubrádió losing its license and mentions the dismissal of the previous editor of Hungarian online newspaper ORIGO.

Kroes noted that a recent report from the OSCE "found that, in the run-up to recent elections, the majority of monitored TV channels showed 'significant bias' towards ruling party Fideszwith RTL being one exception. And it highlights an 'increasing number of outlets directly owned by businesspeople associated with Fidesz. The picture it paints is of a media sector that is (at best) uncertain and self-censoring; and at worst partisan if not government-controlled."

Kroes mentions that Hungary is not the only country in Europe where such concerns arise. For a universal solution she urges the establishment of an “own house in order to ensure a free and plural media.”

The opinion piece of Kroes also appeared yesterday in Hungarian translation on the online interface of Hungarian daily Népszabadság.

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