Most people in the Visegrad Four countries are concerned about media freedom and equally recognize the importance of their independence, the Media Freedom Poll showed. According to the Czechs and Slovaks, the biggest threat to the freedom of the media is their owners, in Poland and Hungary they see the government as the biggest threat. In all four countries, there is majority support for independent media and opposition to disinformation.
In Poland, 71 percent of respondents expressed concern about media freedom, an increase of eight percent year-on-year. Compared to last year’s survey, fear of media freedom has increased significantly in all Visegrad Four countries. You can find the complete results of the survey here.
Respondents in Slovakia also reported a similar increase in concerns, where they increased from 49 percent last year to 62 percent. In Hungary it is 56 percent. The lowest is in the Czech Republic, where 51 percent of people still fear the independence of the media. Last year it was 47 percent of respondents.
According to Poles and Hungarians, the biggest threat to media freedom there is the government. Czechs and Slovaks, on the other hand, see media owners and their business interests as the biggest risk. On the contrary, people in all four countries see the least threat to the media in digital platforms such as Google, Facebook or Twitter.
Most respondents recognize the importance of independent media. “The negative effects of influence on journalistic content by media owners and governments are becoming increasingly apparent to the public,” the authors of the survey said.
The independence of journalists from the government, as well as their independence from the media owner, is highly valued by the respondents. In Poland, political freedom of the media is important to 87 percent of people, where it increased by five percentage points. In the Czech Republic, as in the only country in the survey, the importance has decreased. It fell from 86 percent to 81 percent, while in Slovakia it remains at eighty percent.
The economic independence of the media from their owner is based on similar values. Respondents value transparent media ownership and disclosure of owners’ conflicts of interest with disseminated media content, as well as strongly supporting the separation of journalists from politicians and ensuring truthful and factual reporting.
Compared to last year, the share of people who think that media owners should not be able to influence their content has increased. The share increased most significantly in Hungary, by 11 percentage points to 58 percent, where it still remains the lowest of the Visegrad Four. The highest is in Poland, 69 percent, in the Czech Republic it is around 66 percent.
In the Czech Republic, the highest proportion of people are against the government influencing the content of public media. Although it dropped by two percentage points, it remains at 78 percent, followed by Slovakia with 76 percent. In Hungary, only 60 percent of respondents are against the state influencing the media.
People in all countries place the greatest trust in professional journalism organizations to keep the media free. In this regard, organizations such as the Czech Syndicate of Journalists have surpassed the journalists themselves, as well as the state, the European Union or media owners. At the same time, most people support stronger legislation to protect the media and ensure its independence. In the Czech Republic, it is three out of four respondents.
Similarly, the majority of people in all countries, including Hungary, support sanctions by the European Union for those states that restrict media freedom. According to most people, the Russian invasion of Ukraine highlighted the importance of truthful and accurate information in the public sphere. Hungarians perceive the diversity of their media as lower, while Czechs and Poles consider it higher.
According to respondents, digital platforms should prioritize and highlight trusted sources of information over less trusted ones. At the same time, they should prevent the spread of hate speech or misinformation. Most people support stronger measures against the spread of disinformation.
In the survey, the survey took place between March 6 and 21 this year in four countries. A total of 4,023 Poles, Czechs, Slovaks and Hungarians answered. “The survey comes at a critical time when the European Commission is reaching a political consensus on the new European Media Freedom Act, which seeks to address a range of issues that are reflected in public concerns,” the authors said.
The survey was organized by the Council for Editorial Independence of the media house Economia, which owns, for example, Hospodářské noviny or Aktuálně.cz. The aim of the council is to ensure that journalists can carry out their work without being influenced in any way, it also supports free media and develops journalistic culture. The event was also supported by Reporters Without Borders or the Bakala Foundation.
Video: Media support by the state is essential, claims the director of the Orálek Journalism Fund (April 19, 2023)
The director of the Endowment Fund for Independent Journalism, Petr Orálek, talks to Aktuálně.cz about the assessment of the media, their future and the necessary state support. | Video: Radek Bartoníček
Leave a Reply