IFJ Sends Mission To Hungary Over Crisis in Public Television

The International Federation of Journalists, the world's largest organization of journalists, today announced that next month it is sending a mission of experts to Hungary to examine the crisis in public broadcasting. For almost two years there has been political deadlock over the administration of the state television system.

"Public broadcasting in Hungary is in trouble. The ratings for television are dramatically down and there is no agreement between rivals political parties over the administration of the system," says Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ.

"We shall talk to all sides and try to focus on positive solutions to the emerging crisis. In particular, we are supporting journalists and media staff who want to guarantee the professionalism and plurality of broadcasting.

"The time is right to restore public confidence. It is urgent that there is an end to all direct political involvement in the running of broadcasting," says the IFJ

Earlier this month the IFJ visited Prague at the height of the strike at Czech Television over political interference in public television. The IFJ says that problems over broadcasting and difficulties in the creation of independent, accountable and transparent structures exist throughout the region. "Regrettably, even those countries closest to accession to the European Union have not been able to fully transform public media into genuinely professional and democratic institutions," says the IFJ.

The IFJ, and its regional organization the European Federation of Journalists, carried out a mission to Hungary in 1994 following mass sackings at Hungarian Radio. "Since then, the situation in public broadcasting has continued to be in difficulties and a new, equally profound crisis is emerging," said the IFJ.

The mission will visit Budapest from February 11-14th and will involve meetings with broadcasting regulators, journalists' groups, media experts and senior politicians from all sides of the political spectrum. The members of the Mission are:

Gustl Glattfelder, Chairman of the European Federation of Journalists, Germany

He is also Senior Vice President of the IFJ who has had an extensive career in broadcast journalism working for Süd West Rundfunk

Siegfried Weischenberg, President of the Deutscher Journalisten Verband, Germany

A former journalist, Professor Weischenberg, now teaches at Hamburg University and is the leader of Europe's largest national journalists' union.

Boris Bergant, Vice President of the European Broadcasting Union, Slovenia

A leading commentator on broadcasting affairs in Europe, Mr Bergant is also the Deputy Director General of Radio Television Slovenia.

Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ, based in Belgium

Born in Ireland, he has worked in the United Kingdom as a journalist before joining the IFJ in 1987. He is an expert on international media policy.