EFJ and SEEMO Alarmed by Massive Dismissals in Hungarian Public Broadcasting

Today the European

Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the European group of the International

Federation of Journalists (IFJ), and the Vienna- based South East European

Media Organisation (SEEMO) expressed their deep concern over the wave of

dismissals that started in Hungarian public broadcasting.

"This looks like a real

purge taking place literally days after the end of the EU Presidency of Hungary

and as the new media law is now fully effective,"

said EFJ President Arne König. "We are alarmed by the number of jobs concerned and also by the suspicion

that some of these lay-offs may be politically motivated".

Last week over 570 of the

total 3,400 staff members at the four state-run media companies - Magyar Rádió,

MTV, Duna TV and MTI - were sacked.  In some cases entire teams were

laid-off without any agreement or even serious talks

with the unions was carried out. The lay-offs were made public between the 6th and the 8th

July, and will be continued this week in the regional studios in five major cities. Hundreds

more dismissals are foreseen in the autumn.

Amongst the dismissed people

are widely acknowledged, well known and very popular, iconic personalities (reporters,

commentators, editors) of the Hungarian public service media, especially those

involved in news editing, political and/or cultural issues such as those covering the Houses of Parliament. In general, most affected journalists are those

over 50, which may lead to a loss of expertise and experience.

According to the President

of the board of trustees of Hungarian public broadcaster, there are many

well-paid employees at state run media who have not produced any programmes for

one or two years. Journalists' organisations reject this argument and demand a transparent process of redundancies if the

financial context of the public media in Hungary does not allow secure and

sufficient financing of human resources and programming.

"Things should go the

other way round: instead of cutting resources and complain about declining

programmes, it is the responsibility of the authorities to guarantee the

financing of public media precisely to support quality journalism as a public

good," said König. "The EFJ calls on journalists and civil society

groups across Europe to support Hungarian journalists in their struggle."

Journalists' organisations,

including the EFJ members MUOSZ and the Press Union, are

holding a solidarity strike tomorrow 13



represents more than 250.000 members in over 30 countries
The South

East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) is a network of editors, media

executives and leading journalists from South, East and Central Europe.

For more

information, please contact EFJ on + 32 2 235 22 00 or SEEMO on +43 1 513 39 40