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Hungary: Media freedom protest over Orban advertising tax plan

Hungary: Media freedom protest over Orban advertising tax plan
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Calls for a free country and a free press could be heard as around 1,000 protesters gathered outside Hungary’s parliament to denounce a planned new law to tax advertising revenue – a move many media companies say could ruin them.

Feelings are also running high amid claims that the editor of a popular news website was sacked because a story he had published embarrassed the government of conservative Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

“This is what is called limiting the freedom of the press, not with a law or a decree, but with intimidation which is even worse,” one woman taking part told euronews, referring to the dismissal.

“I think if there are a lot of demonstrations like this, then the government will be able to hear the voice of the people and even if it doesn’t admit it is wrong, sooner or later it will change things,” a man said. “At least I hope so.”

But our correspondent in Budapest, Andrea Hajagos, says despite the protests, it seems the government has no intention of withdrawing the bill which is expected to be debated in parliament later on Tuesday.

Critics accuse Orban’s ruling Fidesz party of curbing media freedom and democratic checks and balances, allegations it denies.

Last week, Hungary’s two main daily newspapers ran a blank page each on Friday and TV stations briefly went off air in protest at the planned new tax.