Media Support and Asset Management Fund (MTVA) sees Atlatszo as Competitor

Hungary’s Media Support and Asset Management Fund (MTVA) gets to decide about 68.5 billion Forints (roughly 230 million Euro) of government spending a year. All state-owned media belong to them. The information on their expenditure is clearly data of public interest and should be published without any request. They merely make up for an obligation by fulfilling requests for information. A position which has been repeatedly acknowledged by Hungarian courts of justice. The fund still attempts to block requests for information with innovative and often absurd arguments.

The argument with trade secret is not new, several courts discarded that one in the past. Another argument is more innovative: Hungarian law clearly states that anyone can file a request for information of public interest, but the lawyers of the fund now came up with the idea that anyone does not actually mean anyone, claiming that the word does not refer to an absolute and unlimited subject. They also require investigative journalists to prove that their request for information is in the interest of the public and want the court to consider the reasoning that secrecy can also serve the public. Further, the lawyers of the fund claim that the journalists misuse the law, if they do not explain how they can use the acquired data to serve the public. On top of all these, they claim that a tiny portal of investigative journalism is a competitor to the state-financed media giant and as such poses a threat to their ad revenue by obtaining data on their daily business.

This article was published in Hungarian on 03 October 2013 here. The text was translated by atlatszo.hu volunteer Róbert Illés.