Hungarian prize revoked

News | Vienna Review | April 2013

Szaniszló gave back the prize after being accused of racist commentary (Photo: YNet News)

On 15 March, Ferenc Szaniszló won the Tancsics prize, Hungary’s most prestigious award for journalism, causing a national and international outcry.

The journalist and television presenter Szaniszló has fallen into disrepute for spreading anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and anti-Roma comments on the broadcasting station Echo-TV, which is closely affiliated with the Orbán admistration. In 2011, the media regulatory authorities fined Echo-TV when Szaniszló referred to Roma as "apes".

Around ten previous Tancsics winners returned their awards in protest, among them György Nej, who stated he didn’t want to be "in the same club" as Szaniszló.

Official complaints from Israel and the U.S. to the Orbán administration prompted Minister for Human Resources Zoltan Balog – who had chosen him for the prize – to apologise, claiming he had not known about Szaniszló's racist comments and asked him to "kindly return the prize which had been wrongly awarded." Balog trusted that Szaniszló was able to make a "smart decision".

Claiming that this was all part of a smear campaign, Szaniszló agreed to return the Tancsics prize: "If it means my country’s strangulation, I don’t need this award," he said.



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