Hungary: Giant pro-govt media company gets special treatment

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — The creation in Hungary of a giant, pro-government media conglomerate will not have to be scrutinized by media or competition authorities.

An order signed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban and published Wednesday in the official bulletin calls the merger affecting hundreds of broadcast, online and print publications of "national strategic importance," exempting it from competition rules.

Last week, 10 companies donated media outlets to a foundation which, by some counts, will control nearly 480 publications and whose operations will be run by Gabor Liszkay, a publisher known for his loyalty to Orban.

Numerous Hungarian and international journalist and media associations have expressed concerns about the effects the conglomerate may have on media pluralism and press freedoms.