Poland, Hungary, Slovenia slammed over media freedom

The Commission and MEPs accused on Wednesday Poland, Hungary and Slovenia of undermining media freedoms and launching attacks on journalists amid the COVID-19 pandemic, news wires reported.

Hungary came under pressure for taking an opposition radio station off the air. In Poland protests followed a proposal for a new media tax that the industry has said would threaten its independence. Slovenian PM Janez Jansa was pointed at for a criticism of a reporter who wrote a piece saying media freedom was under pressure amid attempts to overhaul the national press agency there.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has shown more than ever the essential role of journalists to inform citizens," Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova, told the EU parliament in a debate on sliding media freedoms in the three countries. "More than ever it is time to support the work of the media, not put additional burden or pressure on them... there should be no political pressure in the first place," she said. "Unfortunately, in recent months, additional worrying developments have happened."

The EU lawmakers' debate with Jourova came a day after the Civil Liberties Union for Europe advocacy group singled out the same three countries, and others, for increasing political pressure on the media amid a broader squeeze on democracy under the cover of COVID-19 curbs.

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