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Századvég defends media law

Political analysts at Századvég Foundation released a statement defending the controversial Hungarian media law.

“Freedom of the press and freedom of speech exist in Hungary. The right to write and speak about dictatorship and racism is guaranteed by the new media act and the rule of law in Hungary, as indeed is the right of critics to characterise the new media legislation itself as the end of the free press. No newspaper or program has been the subject of censorship or has been penalised by the media authority since the new regulation came into effect.”

“The passing of the media legislation was preceded by wide-ranging professional consultation, yet in its content it has not met the requirements of all interested groups. The regulation may have inadequacies, but these are not capable of endangering democracy in Hungary. Many of the Act’s opponents are motivated by party political or commercial interests. The Media Act is due to be scrutinised by the Constitutional Court of Hungary and the European Union. If these independent bodies find aspects of the legislation problematic, the Hungarian legislature will be bound to enact the required modifications.”

 

According to the Századvég Foundation, the new media legislation...

assures greater protection for fundamental rights, democratic principles, and the basic values of the European Union, such as human rights, shared values and cultural diversity

strengthens sanctions against violations such as hate speech, the intimidation of minorities and racism

provides additional support for Hungarian culture and children

can be amended by the Judiciary in every instance

modernises outdated regulation; for instance Act II/1986 in the old legislation, which permitted the removal of newspapers from the press registry, came into force before the transition to democracy

stablishes a modern, converged regulatory authority similar to Ofcom or FCC in place of the former one, which was barely operational, unable to reach consensus and lacked authority

makes the regulatory system more independent from direct governmental influence, both politically and financially

creates a more transparent, cost-effective and autonomous public media system; it offers the opportunity to find technical and human resource synergies; it encourages cooperation and consensual decisions between the heads of public media companies

eliminates inconsistencies in the handling of media-related cases in the courts, resulting in coherent decision-making and legal certainty

makes the supervision of the media market more integrated; new, more limited control of the press means a reduction in the discriminative effect of regulation on television channels and radio stations

reduces the level of fines and public service obligations for most commercial media providers

loosens commercial regulation and allows broadcasters to use completely new advertising techniques

simplifies entry to the Hungarian media market for media companies

implements the Audiovisual Media Services Directive

strengthens the sovereignty of editorial offices by introducing co-regulation

defends journalists and editors against undue pressure from owners, advertisers, and sponsors

supports investigative journalism by allowing journalists to protect the confidentiality of their sources

 

According to the Századvég Foundation, the new media legislation...

does not impose unachievable demands on the media market

does not include sanctions that could disable the operation of media companies or destroy press freedom

does not include categories of offence that are so ambiguous that they cannot be precisely understood in the light of precedent

does not intervene in the Hungarian media market

does not run counter to the rule of law in Hungary

does not allow the media authority to censor opinion at its discretion, or to investigate the political balance of the press

does not allow the media authority to censor private blogs

does not allow the media authority to issue orders controlling the electronic or print media (BBJ)