The Executive Board of the International Press Institute (IPI) is holding its semi-annual meeting in Budapest on February 17-18 to draw attention to the challenges facing media freedom in Hungary ahead of the country’s parliamentary elections in April.
During the two-day visit, leading editors and journalists from five continents are meeting with Zoltán Kovács, State Secretary for International Communications, Péter Márki-Zay, the prime ministerial candidate for the opposition coalition, and Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony, as well as journalists and editors from Hungary’s independent news media.
In an IPI statement, Khadija Patel, chair of the IPI Executive Board, highlighted that it was not by chance that the group chose to have its executive meeting in the Hungarian capital. As Patel stated:
Media freedom in Hungary should be high on the agenda ahead of the 2022 election. While we could have chosen to meet in many places, the IPI Executive Board members chose to come to Budapest for this year’s meeting due to the global concern about the ongoing challenges facing independent journalism in Hungary. We look forward to meeting with representatives of both the government and the opposition to understand the main challenges facing the independent press and to seek commitments on positive reforms moving forward.
According to their press release, topics during the meeting include: “the continued erosion of media pluralism; government interference in the media market; illegal surveillance of Hungarian journalists using Pegasus spyware; pervasive exclusion of independent journalists from accessing information; restrictions on journalists reporting inside hospitals during the pandemic; the politicisation of media regulatory bodies; and unequal allocation of state advertising to media.”
IPI plans to produce a report on its experience, outlining the main challenges in Hungary and offering recommendations to improve the situation after the April 3 election.
Calling itself “the world’s oldest global network of journalists, editors and publishers for press freedom,” the IPI last visited Hungary in 2019, when it took part in a “media freedom mission” together with international partner organisations.