A proposal by Austria’s far-right coalition partner to shut out several newspapers was unacceptable, according to Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.
“Any restriction of press freedom is unacceptable,” he said in a statement, although he avoided referring to the reports specifically.
“The shutting out or boycotting of selected media cannot take place in Austria,” he said. “That goes for those in charge of communications at all ministries and all public institutions.”
As reported by the Reuters news agency, two of Austria’s three main national newspapers on September 25 published details of an email sent to police spokespeople by the interior ministry, controlled by the far-right Freedom Party (FPO). It suggested communications with the papers and one other be reduced to “what is absolutely necessary”.
The email accused the broadsheets Kurier and Der Standard and left-wing weekly newspaper Falter of “very one-sided and negative reporting” about the ministry or the police, without providing examples or details.
The interior ministry confirmed that the email was authentic and sent by its chief spokesman but said it was not binding and consisted of suggestions rather than instructions.