Media capture Slovakia Library

Slovakia: A story of fragile pluralism, media resilience and…

Slovakia: A story of fragile pluralism, media resilience and the struggle against corruption

As part of the MFRR, the International Press Institute (IPI) today published the new report ‘Media Capture in Slovakia: A story of fragile pluralism, media resilience and the struggle against corruption’.

The report, authored by Peter Hanák, explores the extent of media capture in Slovakia.

Overall, the report finds that media pluralism remains relatively strong compared with Slovakia’s neighbours in the Visegrád region.  While the power of media oligarchs in the country remains problematic, there is a resilient independent media sector.

Nevertheless, a number of challenges exist that require both vigilance and reforms. Examples of the instrumentalization of media abound in particular as politicians and oligarchs have used media over which they have influence to discredit critical journalism and undermine efforts to prosecute the high levels of corruption exposed following the murder of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée, Martina Kusnirova, in 2018.

Though the public broadcaster, RTV Slovakia, currently enjoys relatively low levels of political pressure, it has a history of vulnerability to political interference and securing its stability and independence should be a priority. The failure of the government to depoliticize the appointments process and to finalise reforms over its financing leaves it highly vulnerable to political capture in the future.

Media regulators, while enjoying a level of relative pluralism in part due to Slovakia’s fragmented political landscape, still suffer from a political  appointments process that affects the perceived levels of impartiality and professionalism of these bodies. Reforming the appointments process to prioritize criteria of professional expertise and political independence would greatly enhance the capacity and legitimacy of these bodies.

The distribution of state advertising remains highly vulnerable to abuse by politicians seeking to reward political allies in the media. This risk can be addressed by bolstering transparency and introducing rules that ensure all distribution decisions are based on objective, proportionate and non-discriminatory criteria.

Recent reforms to bolster independent journalism and press freedom have helped produce progress on safety and source protection, and by many measures the media is in good shape. However, vigilance and further reforms are required to shore up the country’s defenses against media capture to strengthen the independent press, and the report makes a number of recommendations to this end. With elections due in September there is fear that the progress made in recent years may be rapidly unwound. Moreover, while not directly related to media capture, the continued impunity for the masterminds of the murder of Kuciak and Kusnirova continues to cast a shadow over journalism in the country.

The report was commissioned as part of IPI’s series of reports into media capture in Central and Eastern Europe, which involves the capture of once-independent media houses by vested political or business interests, which collude to control the narrative and serve their own political and financial ends.In return for state advertising funds and lucrative contracts in other industries, governments and oligarchs find mutual benefits in media offering positive, compliant coverage. This stealth-like takeover of news media by oligarchic owners working with state authorities in many central and eastern European countries has severely distorted the free flow of information and eroded media pluralism, with deeply damaging effects on democracy.

For more information on IPI’s work on media capture in Europe please follow this link.

The report was published with the support of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation and as part of IPI’s programme of work in the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a project which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries.  MFRR is supported by funding from the European Commission.

This statement was coordinated by the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and candidate countries. 

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mission to Turkey Library

Media Freedom on the Line as Turkey Approaches Elections

Media Freedom on the Line as Turkey Approaches Elections

As Turkey prepares for presidential and parliamentary elections, press freedom and human rights groups demand that, whoever forms the next government, unwinding a decade of restrictions on media freedom must be a central priority for the country.


Turkish translation available here.

The extent of the media freedom crisis facing Turkey is outlined in the International Press Institute’s (IPI) report ‘Turkey: Throttling the Media in Crucial Election Year’ to be presented on World Press Freedom Day, 2023. The report is based on the results of the international media freedom mission led by IPI in October 2022. 


According to the report: Turkey’s journalists are facing a perfect storm of physical, judicial and regulatory threats designed to silence independent reporting and muzzle public debate.


The passing of the disinformation law in 2022 was the latest effort to bring the digital space to heel and ensure the social media platforms either submit to a role as conduits for government censorship, or resist and risk enormous financial penalties and ultimately their closure. 


Media regulators continue to fine broadcasters for critical programming and the courts continue the prosecution of journalists. Meanwhile a febrile atmosphere generated by political hostility to journalists, backed by a police force that beats up journalists with impunity, has created a tinderbox that could ignite into violence and further suppression at any moment.


In the months since the mission, journalists have been fearful of falling foul of the disinformation law which criminalizes ‘disinformation and fake news’ which is loosely defined as news intended to instigate fear, panic, endanger the security, public order or the health of society. The law establishes a framework for extensive censorship of online information and the criminalization of journalists.   While we are aware of only a handful of cases where the law has been cited when detaining individual journalists to date, it provided the legal basis for the unprecedented throttling of Twitter in February which the government initially justified as necessary to stop the spread of fake news following the earthquake. Public reaction forced the government into a swift U-turn. 


We call on the new government to immediately abolish the disinformation law.


During 2023 the broadcast regulator, RTÜK, has continued to issue fines against independent broadcasters on an almost monthly basis for criticizing the government. This evidence reinforced the mission report’s conclusions that the regulator has been weaponized to silence legitimate criticism and that this crucially undermines the electoral process. 


We call on the new government to ensure that all media regulators are fully independent of government and that they operate without prejudice and in full respect of media freedom. 


In the year since May 3, 2022 the Mapping Media Freedom database records 34 physical assaults on at least 72 journalists. This unacceptably high level of violence reinforces concerns expressed in the report about prosecutors’ failures to adequately punish those who perpetrate violence against journalists including the lack of accountability for police officers who assault journalists. 


We call on the new government to reform the judicial authorities’ approach towards journalists’ safety.


The April 25 dawn raids on Kurdish media which saw first the detention of at least 10 journalists of which five have since been charged with membership of an illegal organization, underline the relentless suppression faced by Kurdish journalists. The report records the mission’s meeting in Diyarbakir with journalists to discuss their plight following similar raids in June 2022 that saw the arrests of 20 journalists. 


We call on the new government to end the decades-long suppression of Kurdish journalism. 


The mission met with representatives of the Constitutional Court which has issued some important rulings including the August 2022 ruling that the arbitrary and consecutive bans on public advertising in independent newspapers by the Press Advertising Agency (BIK) violated freedom of expression and press freedom. However, there remain major challenges on the implementation of its rulings by lower courts and the delays in addressing important freedom of expression violations underscoring that justice delayed is justice denied. 


We call on the new government to reinforce the independence and capacity of the Constitutional Court to pursue and speed up justice for journalists and ensure its rulings, and those of the European Court of Human Rights are followed by the lower courts. 


The mission report further notes how, under the conditions, the survival of Turkey’s journalism can be attributed to some incredible and courageous individuals dedicated to their journalistic mission, backed by networks of journalists’ organizations, nationally and internationally, ready to support their members and colleagues wherever possible. It is also a result of a public thirst for independent reliable news that cannot be quenched. Turkey’s journalists still have a pivotal role to play in this election year and the building of a strong democratic society to come.


The mission was led by the International Press Institute (IPI) and included ARTICLE 19, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropea (OBCT) and Amnesty International Turkey (AI). It was organized as part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) programme. 

Signed by:

  • Amnesty International
  • International Press Institute (IPI)
  • European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
  • Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
  • Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT)
  • Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
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Türkiye’de Seçimler Yaklaşırken Basın Özgürlüğü Tehlikede

Türkiye yaklaşan cumhurbaşkanlığı ve meclis seçimlerine hazırlanırken, medya özgürlüğü ve insan hakları kuruluşları; seçimin ardından iş başına gelecek hükümeti kim kurarsa kursun, medya özgürlüğü üzerindeki on yıllık kısıtlamaların kaldırılmasının ülke için temel bir öncelik olmasını talep ediyor. 

Türkiye’nin karşı karşıya olduğu medya özgürlüğü krizinin boyutları Uluslararası Basın Enstitüsü’nün (IPI) Dünya Basın Özgürlüğü Günü 2023 kapsamında sunulacak olan ‘Türkiye: Kritik Seçim Yılında Medyaya Yönelik Kısıtlamalar’ başlıklı raporunda özetlenmiştir. Rapor, Ekim 2022’de IPI öncülüğünde yürütülen medya özgürlüğü uluslararası misyonunun sonuçlarına dayanmaktadır.

Rapora göre: Türkiye’deki gazeteciler, bağımsız haberciliği susturmak ve kamusal tartışmayı sessizleştirmek için tasarlanmış fiziksel, yargısal ve mevzuata dayalı tehditlerden oluşan mükemmel bir fırtınayla karşı karşıyadır.

Ekim 2022’de kabul edilen ve sosyal medya mecralarını hükümet sansürü için bir aygıt haline gelerek boyun eğme ya da direnerek yüksek para cezaları ile karşı karşıya kalma ve nihayetinde kapatılma riskini göze alma seçeneklerine zorlayan Dezenformasyon Yasası, dijital alanı boyun eğmeye zorlama amacıyla meclise getirilen en son girişimdi. 

Medya düzenleyicileri eleştirel programlar nedeniyle yayıncılara ceza kesmeye, mahkemeler de gazetecileri yargılamaya devam ediyor. Bu arada, gazetecilere cezasızlık zırhı altında fiziksel şiddet uygulayan bir polis gücü tarafından desteklenen, gazetecilere yönelik siyasi düşmanlığın yarattığı gergin ortam, her an şiddete ve daha fazla baskıya dönüşebilecek bir yangın yeri yaratmış durumda.

2022 yılının sonunda gerçekleştirilen misyondan bu yana gazeteciler; korku, panik yaratma, toplumun güvenliğini, kamu düzenini veya sağlığını tehlikeye atma amaçlı haberler olarak muğlak bir şekilde tanımlanan ‘dezenformasyon ve yalan haberleri’ suç sayan dezenformasyon yasasının radarına takılmaktan çekindiler. Yasa, çevrimiçi bilginin kapsamlı bir şekilde sansürlenmesi ve gazetecilerin kriminalize edilmesi için bir çerçeve oluşturmaktadır. Bugüne kadar bireysel olarak habercilerin gözaltına alınması sırasında bu yasaya atıfta bulunulduğu sadece birkaç vaka gözlemlense de, yasa Şubat ayında Twitter’ın eşi benzeri görülmemiş bir şekilde kısıtlanmasına yasal dayanak sağlamış ve hükümet başlangıçta depremin ardından yalan haberlerin yayılmasını durdurmak için gerekli olduğu gerekçesini öne sürmüştür. Ancak kamuoyundan gelen yoğun tepki hükümeti bu konuda keskin bir U dönüşüne zorlamıştır. 

Yeni hükümeti, dezenformasyon yasasını derhal yürürlükten kaldırmaya çağırıyoruz.

2023 yılı boyunca yayın düzenleyicisi RTÜK, hükümeti eleştirdikleri gerekçesiyle bağımsız yayıncılara neredeyse her ay ceza kesmeye devam etmiştir. Bu kanıtlar, misyon raporunun, düzenleyici kurumun meşru eleştirileri susturmak için güçlü bir araç olarak kullanıldığı ve bunun seçim sürecini önemli ölçüde baltaladığı yönündeki sonuçlarını desteklemiştir. 

Yeni hükümeti, tüm medya düzenleyicilerinin hükümetten tamamen bağımsız olmalarını, medya özgürlüğüne tam saygı çerçevesinde ve önyargısız faaliyet göstermelerini sağlamaya çağırıyoruz. 

Mapping Media Freedom veritabanı 3 Mayıs 2022’den bu yana geçen bir yıl içinde en az 72 gazeteciye yönelik 34 fiziksel saldırı vakası kaydetmiştir. Kabul edilemez düzeydeki şiddet vakaları, gazetecilere saldıran polis memurlarının hesap verebilirliğinin olmaması da dahil olmak üzere, savcıların gazetecilere karşı şiddet uygulayanları uygun şekilde cezalandırmadaki başarısızlıklarına ilişkin raporda dile getirilen endişeleri güçlendirmektedir. 

Yeni hükümeti, adli makamların gazetecilerin güvenliğine yönelik yaklaşımında reform yapmaya çağırıyoruz.

25 Nisan’da Kürt medyasına yönelik şafak baskınlarında ilk etapta en az 10 gazetecinin gözaltına alınması ve bunlardan beşinin örgüt üyeliğiyle suçlanması, Kürt gazetecilerin karşı karşıya kaldığı amansız baskıyı gözler önüne sermektedir. Rapor, misyonun Haziran 2022’de 20 gazetecinin gözaltına alındığı benzer baskınların ardından gazetecilerin durumunu görüşmek üzere Diyarbakır’da gazetecilerle bir araya geldiğini de hatırlatmaktadır. 

Yeni hükümeti, Kürt medyasına yönelik on yıllardır süren baskılara son vermeye çağırıyoruz. 

Heyet, Basın İlan Kurumu’nun (BİK) bağımsız gazetelerdeki kamu reklamlarını keyfi ve art arda yasaklamasının ifade ve basın özgürlüğünü ihlal ettiğine dair Ağustos 2022 tarihli kararı da dahil olmak üzere bazı önemli kararlar veren Anayasa Mahkemesi temsilcileriyle bir araya geldi. Bununla birlikte, kararların alt mahkemeler tarafından uygulanmasına ilişkin büyük zorluklar devam etmekte ve önemli ifade hürriyeti ihlallerinin ele alınmasındaki gecikmeler, ‘geciken adalet, adalet değildir’ sözünü akıllara getirmektedir. 

Yeni hükümeti, gazeteciler için adaleti yakından takip etmek ve hızlandırmak üzere Anayasa Mahkemesinin bağımsızlığını ve kapasitesini güçlendirmeye ve bu mahkemenin ve Avrupa İnsan Hakları Mahkemesinin kararlarının alt mahkemeler tarafından takip edilmesini sağlamaya çağırıyoruz. 

Raporda ayrıca, mevcut koşullar altında Türkiye’de gazeteciliğin, kendini gazetecilik misyonuna adamış, ulusal ve uluslararası gazetecilik meslek örgütleri ağları tarafından desteklenen ve mümkün olan her yerde üyelerini ve meslektaşlarını desteklemeye hazır olan cesur ve özverili bireyler sayesinde ayakta kalabildiği belirtilmektedir. Bu aynı zamanda kamuoyunun bağımsız ve güvenilir haberlere olan yoğun ihtiyacının da bir sonucudur. Gazetecilerin Türkiye’deki bu seçim yılında ve gelecekte güçlü ve demokratik bir toplumun inşasında oynayacakları çok önemli bir rol vardır.

Uluslararası Basın Enstitüsü (IPI) öncülüğündeki heyette ARTICLE 19, Gazetecileri Koruma Komitesi (CPJ), Avrupa Basın ve Medya Özgürlüğü Merkezi (ECPMF), Sınır Tanımayan Gazeteciler (RSF), Osservatorio Balcani Caucaso Transeuropea (OBCT) ve Uluslararası Af Örgütü Türkiye (AI) yer almıştır. Bu misyon, Medya Özgürlüğü Acil Müdahale (MFRR) programının bir parçası olarak düzenlenmiştir. 

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Tackling Impunity: Lessons from the Public Inquiry into the…

Tackling Impunity: Lessons from the Public Inquiry into the Assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia

The murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia sent shockwaves across Europe and was a grim reminder of the risk reporters face while uncovering abuses of power. It was the first assassination of a journalist worldwide to be investigated through an independent Public Inquiry. To mark one year since the damning findings were unveiled, ARTICLE 19 Europe and The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation today publish a report that explores the efficacy of the Maltese Public Inquiry model, assessing whether it stands up as good practice.

The Public Inquiry into the circumstances of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination was the first Public Inquiry to have taken place in Malta in nearly 20 years. It followed a strong public demand for a strengthened capacity to tackle corruption and wider rule-of-law reforms. The research from ARTICLE 19 Europe and The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation, ‘Tackling Impunity: Lessons from the Public Inquiry into the Assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia’, assesses the significance of the Maltese Public Inquiry in the fight for truth, accountability and justice for Daphne’s assassination and the vital role civil society and international organisations play in ensuring an independent investigation is carried out. In addition, the report identifies lessons that can be learned from the Public Inquiry process so far, summarises its key achievements, and makes recommendations to the Government of Malta, to European Union institutions, and to international civil society.

This report was coordinated as part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States, Candidate Countries and Ukraine.

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Feindbild-6 Library

Feindbild Journalist 6 – Hatred on the Doorstep

Feindbild Journalist 6 – Hatred on the Doorstep

(Leipzig, 14/06/2022) — The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), as part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response, (MFRR) has published the English translation of the 2021 iteration of “Feindbild”, an annual study into politically-motivated violence against journalists in Germany. “Feindbild 6 – Hatred on the Doorstep” was first published in German in April 2022.

Key findings: A new negative record

As part of the study, ECPMF recorded a record number of 83 physical attacks on journalists and media workers, an increase of 14 from the previous year. These attacks affected 124 media workers or teams, although the researchers assume that the number of unreported cases is high. Co-author of the report, Martin Hoffmann said:


Since we started recording cases in 2015, we have never verified so many violent attacks against media professionals as in 2021. Serious threats and physical attacks are part of the everyday work of more and more journalists. This does not remain without consequences. A growing number of journalists are therefore withdrawing from covering demonstrations.


Demonstrations and protests were the context in which attacks against the press happened most frequently in Germany. 75% took place at demonstrations of pandemic-related protest networks such as Querdenken.


As in previous years, Saxony remains the largest offender when it comes to politically-motivated violence against journalists, with 23 recorded incidents in 2021. However, this year marked an increase in the number of attacks taking place in western Germany.


The political background of the attackers in 2021 was highly varied. 39% of attackers came from right-wing perpetrators, 1% from the left, and 39% could not be attributed to any particular political stance.


Attacks increased towards the end of 2021, with 19 recorded in December and 18 in January 2022 — the highest number recorded in any two months since the start of the research in 2015.


Support from BDZV

For the first time, the German Federal Association of Digital Publishers and Newspaper Publishers (BDZV) supported the production of the Feindbild study. Speaking of the report’s findings, Mr. Sigrun Albert, General Manager of BDZV said:


Unfortunately, the new Feindbild study confirms our assumption that local journalists are increasingly being targeted by violent attacks because of their work. Hateful attacks and massive digital threats are also at least as disturbing.


BDZV will partner with and support ECPMF to implement long-term monitoring of attacks facing journalists in Germany and to develop counter-measures in response. Dr. Lutz Kinkel, Managing Director of ECPMF, said:


What we need is more protection for media professionals, more consistent punishment of criminal offences, and more media literacy education. The partnership with BDZV enables us to explore and analyse the problems in the local space more intensively in the future. We are looking forward to the collaboration.

This report was coordinated by the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States, Candidate Countries and Ukraine.

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MFRR fact finding mission to the Netherlands February 2022 Library

Netherlands: Towards a safer haven: Advancing safety of journalists…

Netherlands: Towards a safer haven: Advancing safety of journalists amidst rising threats in the Netherlands

Following interviews with more than twenty local stakeholders, the MFRR concludes that policy and practice around the safety of journalists in the Netherlands in many ways constitutes a best practice example, thanks to its pioneering PersVeilig mechanism. Nevertheless, there remains a need to strengthen several areas to better protect journalists and media workers against the increasingly hostile climate pursuant to intensified societal polarisation and threats emanating from organised crime.

The report details the findings and recommendations of the MFRR’s online fact-finding mission that took place in February 2022, led by Free Press Unlimited (FPU) together with the European Centre of Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) and the International Press Institute (IPI), with the participation of the other MFRR partners plus the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders, and in collaboration with the Nederlandse Vereniging voor Journalisten (NVJ).

The Netherlands generally remains a safe haven for journalists and media workers. The pioneering PersVeilig mechanism is a key actor in ensuring and advancing journalists’ safety and is a noteworthy example of constructive cooperation and dialogue between the journalistic community and state authorities. Both symbolically and practically, PersVeilig makes it clear that attacks and harassment of reporters are not tolerated and are addressed collectively.

While the assessment of PersVeilig is overwhelmingly positive, both among the MFRR’s partner organisations and its interlocutors during the fact-finding mission, room for improvement remains in a number of areas. These include implementing agreed-upon protocols more consistently and ensuring the project’s capacity and continuity.

Despite the relatively favourable conditions for press freedom and a pioneering mechanism, the MFRR mission confirmed that aggression against journalists is on the rise amidst a hardening of public debate and increasing polarisation in society. Subsequently, and despite the high willingness to cooperate between the journalistic community and law enforcement, the need remains to ensure a better understanding of the role of the press during protests, as well as changes to operational procedures to protect this role.

Certain categories of journalists suffer specific threats, particularly freelance reporters and women journalists. In this regard, it became clear throughout the mission that the Dutch approach to the safety of journalists lacks a gender lens. Moreover, while the Dutch policy approach scores well when it comes to putting in place mechanisms to protect journalists and prosecute offenders, there is room for improvement as concerns prevention.

Furthermore, with regard to threats from organised crime, there is a need to study the creation of tailored protection packages and consider improvements to the protection of journalists who cover high-profile criminal trials.

In light of its findings and to ensure that the Netherlands maintains its leadership position when it comes to the safety of journalists, the MFRR issued more than twenty specific recommendations to the authorities of the Netherlands, law enforcement, the journalistic community, PersVeilig and social media platforms.

The fact-finding mission to the Netherlands was coordinated by the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries.


Recommendations for government and EU to improve media freedom…

Recommendations for government and EU to improve media freedom in Hungary

After the re-election victory of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his ruling Fidesz party, the International Press Institute (IPI) today sets out fifteen recommendations for the government to help improve the landscape for media freedom in Hungary.

IPI also sets out seven recommendations for the European Union to help stop the erosion of media pluralism and democratic freedoms in Hungary and help defend what remains of independent media within the country.

Recommendations to the Hungarian government

– Develop a long-term strategy for restoring independence and pluralism in the media market based on clear democratic procedures, while also taking immediate steps to stop illiberal practices in the media market.

– Create checks and balances which ensure a parliamentary majority is not a carte blanche for a government to reshape the media system according to its will; create a legal framework that fosters a pluralistic media and independent journalism.

– Reform the system for funding Hungary’s public service media to ensure it is transparent, measurable and based on a clear set of criteria for the performance of tasks and the delivery of its public interest mission.

– Depoliticize the management and oversight bodies of the public broadcaster and increase professional standards; create accountability mechanisms to ensure adherence to the Media Act and Code of Ethics of the Public Service Media and the provision of fair, impartial and balanced news including a plurality of voices and opinions.

– Restore proper democratic governance and oversight to the public broadcaster, ending the dual structure of Duna Media Service Provider and MTVA; establish stronger professional requirements for election to the boards; guarantee independence, accountability and transparency in line with international standards; rebuild trust in public service media.

– Depoliticise and restore organisational and editorial independence to the state news agency MTI; sever channels for direct political control over production of news content; assess the performance of the management staff in line with professional criteria and take appropriate actions if breaches are identified.

– Radically reform the system for state advertising to halt widespread abuses of public resources to distort the media market; end all politically motivated financing of media; create a new framework based on market logic and on transparent criteria.

– Guarantee fair competition in Hungary’s media markets to foster a vibrant and sustainable media ecosystem; appropriately apply the Competition Act to limit existing media concentration, including to KESMA; adopt measures to support market entry and the sustainability of the sector.

– Guarantee the independence and transparency of the NMHH and the Media Council; create safeguards to ensure limits on the concentration of power; immediately cease regulatory practices designed to marginalize independent media or force them from the market; depoliticize tendering processes and ensure decisions are transparent and taken according to clearly defined criteria.

– Immediately end the selective approach against journalists regarding interview requests, requests for comment, public information and data; reverse restrictive measures affecting journalists’ movement within the Hungarian Parliament.

– Re-establish regular press conferences and briefings to which all media are invited; including those by the prime minister; end discriminatory approach towards journalistic accreditation for government events; restore normal working relationship between journalists and public authorities at national and regional level.

– Reform the system for FOI in Hungary, ensuring timely response from all public bodies and ministries and removing unnecessary obstacles; guarantee adherence to all rulings by the National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information; re-join Open Government Partnership.

– Launch a thorough and credible parliamentary inquiry into the alleged abuses of Pegasus spyware by Hungarian intelligence and law enforcement agencies against journalists and establish strong, clear and transparent safeguards to limit future violations. Fully comply with the EU Parliament’s investigation into abuses of Pegasus in the EU.

– Introduce anti-SLAPP legislation in line with EU recommendations to protect journalists and media organisations from vexatious defamation lawsuits launched by powerful individuals or institutions; publicly condemn all smears and vocal attacks by politicians against journalists.

– Coordinate closely with international media freedom groups, civil society and European Union to improve press freedom and implement international standards; seek to join the Media Freedom Coalition to reinforce Hungary’s commitments to safeguarding press freedom.

Recommendations to the European Union

– Make full use of competencies under competition and state aid law to address the deliberate distortions of competition in the media market in Hungary; including addressing the two existing complaints to the Commission for unlawful or incompatible state aid in the area of public service broadcasting and state advertising as well as prioritizing the handling of future complaints.

– Continue EU infringement proceedings against Hungary over arbitrary and discriminatory tendering decision by the Media Council over the license renewal for Klubrádió; monitor the independence of Hungary’s media regulatory bodies according to the requirements of article 30(2) of the Audio-visual Media Services Directive.

– Pass strong Media Freedom Act which empowers EU institutions to address systematic abuses of legislative, economic and regulatory powers to erode media pluralism and freedom in the EU internal market; create a legal framework which helps safeguard the pluralism and foster independent journalism.

– Apply the Rule of Law Conditionality Regulation to Hungary and suspend funds in response to grave attacks on the democratic values, including the freedom of the press, as well as systematic management of EU funds to intentionally distort media markets

– Pass strong EU anti-SLAPP directive to help protect journalists and media outlets against vexatious litigation aimed at silencing their work; ensure swift implementation by member states including Hungary

– Continue and expand financial support to independent journalism in Hungary, especially investigative journalism. Such support should be tailored to the needs of journalists and should include core support.

– Further strengthen the toolbox of the EU to pushback against media capture within the EU market and halt the spread of illiberal attacks on press freedom across the bloc.


Ahead of the election, IPI visited Budapest and published a report examining the landscape for media freedom in Hungary. Click here to download the full report.

Today, IPI and its global network of leading journalists, editors and media executives called for renewed efforts to defend press freedom following the election victory of Prime Minister Orbán and underscored its solidarity with independent media in Hungary.

This statement by IPI is part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries.

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Controlling the Message: Challenges for independent reporting in Greece

Controlling the Message: Challenges for independent reporting in Greece

Today, the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) publishes the report “Controlling the Message: Challenges for independent reporting in Greece”, which details the findings and recommendations of its online fact-finding mission to Greece. The mission, involving interviews with more than thirty local stakeholders, was implemented by the MFRR together with Reporters Without Borders in December 2021. The partner organisations conclude that challenges to the independence of the media and the safety of journalists are systemic in the country. While the problems are not unique, their intensity is highly problematic and sets it apart from most other EU Member States.

The result of this crisis is that news that is inconvenient or unflattering for the government, which includes reporting on serious human rights violations, does not get reported in many outlets. This creates a significant obstacle for the public’s access to information and, subsequently, their informed participation in the democratic process.

Understanding the political polarisation and fragmentation of the media landscape requires taking the long view. The current situation has been shaped by more than a decade of severe financial and political crisis which has harmed the way journalism is understood. At the same time, there has been a deterioration of press freedom since Nea Dimokratia’s electoral victory in 2019, who are “obsessed with controlling the message” and minimising critical and dissenting voices, as we heard again and again during the fact-finding mission.

The murder of crime reporter Giorgos Karaivaz represents a low point for media freedom in Greece and drew international attention to the significant problems with journalists’ safety. The investigation progress appears slow and lacks basic transparency, which has had a chilling effect and leads to mistrust about the authorities’ ability or willingness to protect the journalistic community.

Migration policy, human rights violations committed in its implementation including pushbacks, and the humanitarian crisis that the refugee stream has created are highly sensitive topics for the government. Reporting on the issue is increasingly difficult, as journalists face obstructions including arbitrary arrest and detention, restriction of access to migration hotspots, surveillance, and harassment.

Reporting on protest is another particularly problematic area of journalistic practice in Greece. Journalists face aggression and harassment from law enforcement and from protesters. Overall, there is a lack of political will to ensure that journalists can safely report from demonstrations, which translates to a lack of adequate protection at the operational level.

Legal threats are also a significant problem for media freedom in Greece, including criminal prosecutions as well as Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPPs). Such threats can lead to self-censorship.

In light of these findings, the MFRR has issued a series of recommendations to the Greek authorities and to the European community, including the institutions of the European Union and the other EU Member States.

The fact-finding mission to Greece was coordinated by the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries.


Report launch: “Controlling the Message: Challenges for independent reporting…

Report launch: “Controlling the Message: Challenges for independent reporting in Greece”

The MFRR has conducted a media freedom mission in Greece and the report consisting of findings and recommendations will be launched on 28 March, 2022 with an online event.

On 28 March 2022, the Media Freedom Rapid Response will publish the report of its online fact-finding mission to Greece that took place in December.

Under the title ‘Controlling the Message: Challenges for independent reporting in Greece’, the report reflects the mission’s findings and recommendations on:

  • The assassination of Giorgos Karaivaz;
  • Polarisation of a fragmented media landscape;
  • Reporting on migration;
  • Reporting on protests; and,
  • Legal threats.

The report will be launched with an online panel on 28 March at 2pm CEST (=3pm EEST) with:

  • Laurens Hueting, Senior Advocacy Officer of the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
  • Iliana Papangeli, Managing Director of Solomon
  • Renate Schroeder, Director of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
  • Nikos Smyrnaios, Associate Professor at the University of Toulouse
  • Anne ter Rele, Advocacy Officer at the International Press Institute

Please register for the event.

The report will be made available on and the websites of the MFRR partner organisations at the time of the launch event.

For interview requests and media inquiries, please contact

The fact-finding mission to Greece was coordinated by the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries.

IPI Bulgaria Report Library

IPI report shines light on hidden alliances and vested…

IPI report shines light on hidden alliances and vested interests behind media capture in Bulgaria

Third report as part of IPI’s campaign on media capture. The International Press Institute (IPI) today published a new report on media freedom and independence in Bulgaria. The report explores the capture of media by vested business and political interests and the corrupting relationship between media owners and politicians as they compete for power and profit.

The report finds that the story of media capture in Bulgaria differs from the classic Hungarian model, whose mechanism of operation is only thinly veiled. The Bulgarian picture is murkier, driven by a lack of information over the ownership and business interests of the key individuals involved in a country with  the EU’s highest level of corruption and organized crime, which creates an extra layer of complexity and competing power centres that the media and politicians have found themselves ensnared in.

Veiled networks

Bulgaria is ranked as the most corrupt country in the European Union. Here, competing power struggles among politicians, oligarchs, media moguls, and organized crime, and their efforts to win over control of state institutions such as the courts, prosecutors, and media regulators are hidden behind a web of rumours and political scandals, of banking collapses, public protests and politicized prosecutions.

Within this struggle for power, the media has been debased and weaponized as a tool through which private and political interests are projected while often smearing their rivals. Serious independent media that are able to stand outside this corrupted sector to pursue investigative journalism are targeted by those they expose and hauled before the courts either through vexatious private lawsuits, or by trumped-up charges drawn up by politicized prosecutors.

The corruption of politics and media seem to run hand in hand. Just as media owners use their influence to gain political and business favours, so politicians use their power to bring media outlets to heel. Crucially, it’s all hidden behind a veiled network of oligarchs and their competing alliances and rivalries.

The system is enabled by corrupted political and judicial institutions, the misuse of state resources, compromised public service media and media regulators, weaponized judiciary and a lack of transparency over media ownership, thanks to weak rules and the use of multiple shell companies to conceal the powers behind the media.

Chance for reform

Amid this murky landscape, what is evident is how the powers of the state have been abused to weaken public service media, to pressure private media, to prosecute independent investigative media, and to smear political or critical rivals.

Bulgaria’s new prime minister, Kiril Petkov, has vowed to clean up corruption in the country and already committed to making fully transparent all public funds directed to Bulgarian media. This is an important first step, but the report finds that the government must go much further. It must ensure full transparency of ownership of media, it must end the culture of political interference in the media and in particular ensuring a fully independent public service media.  And it must end the persecution of the independent media sector dedicated to investigating and exposing corruption. The report includes key recommendations to this end.

The report was authored by media expert Boryana Dzhambazova and is published as part of IPI’s campaign on media capture. It is organized as part of  the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries.

IPI Czechia Report Library

IPI publishes report on media capture in the Czech…

IPI publishes report on media capture in the Czech Republic

New government must help strengthen media independence and pluralism. The International Press Institute (IPI) today published a new report on media freedom and independence in the Czech Republic. The report focuses on the spread of media capture under the former government of Andrej Babiš and sets forth recommendations for the new government of Petr Fiala to reform and strengthen independence and pluralism in the media sector.

Babiš, one of the Czech Republic’s richest men and owner of the Agrofert conglomerate, served as finance minister from 2014 to 2017 and as prime minister from 2017 to 2021 after purchasing the publishing house Mafra and using it to launch his political career. Babiš left government in November 2021 with a record of undermining the public broadcaster, steering government advertising to his media, and generally using his media power to promote and defend his government’s record.

Media capture

As the report shows, media capture in the Czech Republic differs fundamentally from countries like Hungary. Rather than a state-led media takeover, the Czech Republic witnessed the acquisition of many of the country’s largest private media outlets by a handful of oligarchs for whom media could be used to promote their wider business interests. This development had serious consequences for media pluralism and the standards of journalism. Meanwhile, once in power, Babiš arguably sought to mirror certain media-capture strategies adopted in Hungary and Poland, while other oligarch-owned media limited their criticism of Babiš and his ANO party.

The report also examines how high-quality investigative journalism retreated from mainstream media to a community of small digital outfits that, despite their reduced resources, have been able to maintain a crucial check on power.

The report examines growing pressure on the public-service broadcaster Czech Television (CT) under the Babiš government. While the struggle for control of CT weakened its independence, the broadcaster ultimately held out against full capitulation, remaining a beacon of public-service journalism in the region. In this light, the report looks at key reform proposals to strengthen Czech public media’s defenses against future attempts to compromise its independence.

The report also details how government advertising funds were directed to benefit Mafra media owned by Babiš and recommends policy reform to end the abuse of government funds to reward positive media coverage.

Opportunity for reform

The new Czech government now has the opportunity to strengthen the media sector through a robust reform of the rules on public media and the use of public funds as well as through policies ensuring the support of the quality journalism sector. The report provides key recommendations toward this end.

In July 2022 the Czech government will take over the Presidency of the European Union where it has already announced that media freedom will be central to its agenda.

The report is authored by Michal Klíma, who was the chair of the IPI Czech National Committee until February 2022 when he accepted a position as the advisor to the Czech prime minister on media issues and on countering disinformation.

The report was also presented during the panel “Competing Models of Media Capture in Europe” at the Media Freedom Rapid Response Summit on March 24.

This report is published as part of IPI’s actions in the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries.