January 3 marks the first weekday of Hungary holding the title of EU presidency for the first six months of 2011. The day comes with continued and sometimes strongly worded international criticism from politicians and reputable media alike, mostly due to the Orbán government’s new media bill.
The UK’s Observer, Germany’s Die Welt, Switzerland’s Le Matin as well as the Washington Post ran pieces envisioning a strong totalitarian drive in the country reflected in the new regulatory regime that grants the media watchdog NMHH unfrequented powers in controlling all media outlets.
Hungarian publications, especially those on the left have expressed outrage over the system.
The daily Népszabadság stated it would take the matter to the Constitutional Court while others are mainly hoping that the EU would not tolerate such degrees of state control.
In some international reactions, Hungary was deemed unfit to hold the presidency given the government’s approach to freedom of the press. (BBJ)