Free the Public Media! The Media Services and Support Trust Fund (MTVA) Should be Wound Up!

According to the We Are the Majority group, the fairness of the elections has been compromised in many ways, but the gravest problems at the moment are party media built from public money and the restriction of the freedom of press.

Why is this important?

One of the most important lessons learned during recent weeks is that a balanced provision of information is needed everywhere in the country, as this is the basis for making the right decision about our future as a citizen – not only at the elections but generally in everyday life.

We have had enough of the scaremongering, we have had enough of being divided. We will not let public media to be a tool in the hand of the government that can be used against anyone.

MTVA cannot guarantee independence, so a new structure is needed. Until this is achieved, we want it to ensure that:

1. No government advertisements are shown, because this violates the independence of public media. Government announcements are covert support that render the finances of public media intransparent, encourage greater loyalty towards the government as something that pays off well, and, on top of it all, degrade public media into a propaganda tool.

2. An independent analysis of the balancedness of its news and current affairs programs are published on a monthly basis. The fundamental task of public media is to stimulate a meaningful dialogue about our common affairs. It has been very much underperforming in this area in recent years. It helps to regain the trust of the public if we continuously get a precise and verifiable picture of the quality of the information provided.

3. An independent body is set up to handle complaints from audiences. The symbol of restoring trust with the public is a body that takes complaints from audiences seriously and consistently calls all public media institutions to account for their compliance with statutory and ethical rules.

4. Monthly viewing/listening/access statistics by channel are published. A minimum requirement for transparent management is letting the public know how many people are reached by the public media maintained from their money and what social effect they can exert.

5. Each year a budget is drawn up which makes clear what program type costs what and how much of it is shown, broken down to exact airtime. The management of public media that use up tens of billions of forints in public money should be made fully transparent and verifiable. This is not only a constitutional requirement, but also a European legal obligation.

6. All supplier contracts are published in searchable form, without the need for submitting freedom of information requests. The basic condition for an authentic operation is the accurate settlement of public funds.

7. In campaign periods debates of prime ministerial candidates are initiated and broadcasted even if not all candidates are present. It cannot happen again that voters cast their votes without having been given a chance to compare the ideas and capabilities of the candidates. Public media cannot subscribe to political campaigns that totally eliminate the question of reasonableness from political decisions.

To wind up MTVA, at least two thirds of MPs would need to vote for the law amendment. Nevertheless, conforming to the above points does not require new legislation. By doing the latter, MTVA could implement the changes itself, which would be the first step towards liberating public media. If you agree, sign the petition up and join us on Saturday on Szabad sajtó (Free Press) Way, where we will take the first steps towards a free and independent public media.

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