Jobbik to step up against the system of state-sponsored fake news

Jobbik MP and spokesman Péter Jakab submitted a bill to step up against the “system of state-sponsored fake news” on Monday. Péter Jakab noted that Hungary’s public discourse has unfortunately been infested by the so-called fake news which typically have one single goal: to mislead the people and thus influence the political affiliations of news consumers in most cases. As he writes in the explanation of the bill: “This phenomenon is harmful in itself but it especially applies to the cases where the fake news, established as such by a court verdict, is published in media outlets directly or indirectly funded by national budget organizations.”

As it has been reported before, Jobbik has won over a hundred press lawsuits against pro-government media outlets regularly publishing mistruths about the party’s politicians. These newspapers and news sites run an enormous amount of government advertisements, thus gaining significant financial resources that make them quasi independent from the market. Mr Jakab says the reputation of the state and/or the fully or partially state-owned economic organizations is severely damaged if they fund and/or advertise in such media outlets that regularly lie to news consumers and mislead voters.

“It is a fundamental public interest that any media outlets and service providers which are condemned by a final court verdict at least three times within a year for the distribution of lies and mistruths should not receive any form of funding from the state and the national budget. The purpose of the bill is clear: to protect the credibility of the state, to protect the national budget from funding media outlets and services that produce fake news and, ultimately, to protect citizens from false news.”

Pay back double

To give the legislation a sufficient deterrent effect, the proposal says “media outlets directly or indirectly receiving state funding but failing to comply with the fundamental rules of correct information service shall be fined double the amount of the funding received.”