Former MTI reporter: Government influences public media

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The Hungarian government influences state-owned media to propagate the messages of the leadership, János Kárpáti, a former reporter of state-owned news agency MTI said at a conference about self-censorship in Brussels yesterday, according to Hungarian online daily index.hu.

Kárpáti said that reporters and journalists are “advised” to discuss questions they are about to ask government officials with their supervisors, and the questions need to be approved. 

The reporter said he worked with MTI since 1981 and was fired earlier this year, after being told there were redundancies at the agency. Though more specific reasons for his firing from the agency were never given, he said that after he posed a question to Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in Brussels last year he had not discussed with his supervisor ahead of time, he was never again deployed to attend Orbán’s press conferences, index.hu reported. “Practically I was banned from attending Orbán’s press conferences,” Kárpáti said, according to index.hu. “I could not ask him any questions afterwards.”

The former MTI reporter added that requests “regularly arrive from above”, such as “you should emphasize this” or “you should ask this and not that,” He noted that the public media was centralized after Orbán started governing in 2010. “This is not public media, but government media, and the two should not be the same”. Kárpáti reportedly said.

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