Hungary’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade summoned David Kostelancik, charge d’affaires at the United States’ embassy in Budapest, after the US State Department launched a media fund for rural media outlets in Hungary, RTL Klub reported.
The 700.000 USD program’s “goal is to support media outlets operating outside the capital in Hungary to produce fact-based reporting and increase their audience and economic sustainability. The program should increase citizens’ access to objective information about domestic and global issues of public importance, by enhancing local media’s ability to engage a larger audience, including their print, multimedia, and online readership”, according to the State Department’s recent announcement.
The ministry told RTL Klub that Kostelancik was summoned to give explanation. With the upcoming elections in 2018, the Hungarian goverment considers the State Department’s announcement as “intervention into Hungarian domestic politics”.
Group leader of the ruling Fidesz party, Gergely Gulyas was asked about the State Department’s plans to support the media in the Hungarian provinces. He said that it was “an attempt to interfere with Hungary’s affairs” and added that similar foreign attempts would not be tolerated by the US political elite, no matter where the money comes from.
Kostelancik was summoned to the ministry in October, following his remarks about the “worrying” state of press freedoms in Hungary.