The AEJ general assembly meeting in Kilkenny, Ireland on Saturday deplores the economic, political and police pressure which is being put by certain Council of Europe member governments on privately owned media. Most recently this has been evident in Hungary, Poland and Turkey and has affected the Nepszabadsag, Gazeta Wyborcza and Cumhuriyet daily newspapers in these countries.
AEJ journalists view governments’ hostility to private media as ‘attack on free speech’
In Turkey the governement is appointing administrators to run commercial publications and siezing assets while journalists are being arrested and commercial companies are pressurised to refrain from advertising in critical publications including Cumhuriyet.
In Hungary Nepszabadsag, an independent publication, has been suspended and sold by its owners to Opimus, a company sympathetic to the present Hungarian government.
In Poland Gazeta Wyborcza has seen its advertising revenues from state controlled companies contribute to an overall fall in 2016 by 20 per cent while the revenues of some government supporting publications are up threefold.
This suggests that the state is actively intervening to skew the media landscape in its favour.
The state must abstain from such activities and remain neutral towards the private media. Otherwise media freedom and freedom of speech cannot be assured.