VIENNA, 7 September 2010 - Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, announced today that she has presented the Hungarian Government with an expert legal analysis of recently adopted laws and draft legislation on media and telecommunications, and asked that the Government reconsider and amend the package.
"The media package is cause for very serious concern," wrote Mijatovic in a letter to Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi. "If left unchanged, it would seriously restrict media pluralism, curb the independence of the press, abolish the autonomy of public-service media and impose a chilling effect on freedom of expression and public debate, all essential for democracy."
The expert legal review was commissioned by the office of the Representative and prepared by Karol Jakubowicz, one of Europe's most prominent media scholars. It examines both the already adopted laws of the package, as well as Bill 363 on content regulation which is scheduled to be voted on by Parliament in September, in light of OSCE, Council of Europe and European Union standards on free expression.
"I ask Parliament and the Government to initiate an urgent revision of the media package and take into consideration the detailed recommendations of the analysis when rewriting the legislation. My Office stands ready to assist the authorities in these efforts at every step of this process," Mijatovic said.
She said that the analysis underlined the concerns the OSCE media freedom representative already voiced in June and July: "The changes put into place a new legal, institutional and regulatory framework for media regulation and supervision that can be easily misused for political purposes and that could contradict the principle of the separation of powers and of the checks and balances typical of liberal democracies. Public-service media are especially at risk of direct political control."
"The study also warns that the current legislative attempt mainly extends the traditional regulatory framework to the new media, including most Internet content originating in Hungary as well as content hosted abroad but of relevance to Hungarian users, which is widely regarded as inappropriate, and dangerous for free social communication on the Internet."