It is not enough that we have European Commissioners -- whose obligation to remain neutral is, by the way, enshrined in the very treaties that called the whole bloc into existence -- openly taking sides in what should be considered the internal affairs of a Member State. Certain MEPs now don’t even try to hide their attempts to influence EU officials with their political agenda.
In a letter yesterday (see below) to EC Vice-President Věra Jourová, the commissioner who called Hungary a “sick democracy,” and Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton, MEP Anna Donáth from the left-liberal Hungarian party Momentum attempts to influence the European Commission’s stance on media affairs. An MEP may of course attempt to promote his or her agenda, but in this case, Donáth, who represents a political party that failed to win any seats in the Hungarian parliament, does so by spreading misinformation.
“Hungary’s leading independent (sic) radio station, Klubrádió, will lose its licence (sic) on the 14th of February and will no longer be able to broadcast,” MEPs Donáth and Farreng write, adding that after 19 years of existence, a “new media is condemned to silence” in a Member State where “80% of them belong to allies of the current government.”
The MEPs omit the fact that the radio station in question has lost its license because it broke the rules – six times. As I wrote in a blog post on Wednesday, the radio station’s own management is to blame for its demise by flagrantly disregarding broadcasting regulations and falling afoul of the court.
And then there’s that cute line about 80 percent of outlets allied to the government
In reality, the Hungarian media market is just as balanced as countries in the EU’s western half. With around 50-50 percent market share of conservative-leaning and left-liberal outlets, Hungary’s media and press freedom is alive and kicking. Not to mention the fact that the television channel with the greatest reach among Hungarians, RTL Klub, and most of the top-performing online media outlets, 24.hu, telex.hu, 444.hu for example, are anything but sympathetic to PM Orbán’s Fidesz-KDNP government.
What we have here are political forces that have failed to win meaningful voter support in their home countries, so they take their political crusades to Brussels. And they play fast and loose with the facts. Let’s hope the more discerning minds in the European bureaucracy will look on them with the appropriated skepticism.