Despite adjustments, Hungary's media law continues to violate OSCE commitments, says OSCE representative on freedom of the media
VIENNA, 8 March 2011 – Hungary's media legislation still violates OSCE press freedom commitments, despite recent adjustments, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović, said today.
“The legislation can still be misused to curb alternative and differing voices in Hungary despite modifications adopted following a request from the European Commission,” Mijatović said.
“Several problems remain: The law vests unusually broad powers in the politically homogeneous Media Authority and Media Council, enabling them to control content of all media. The legislation regulates broadcast, print and online media content based on identical principles. It leaves key terms undefined. It requires all media to be registered with the Media Authority. It punishes violations with high fines. It fails to guarantee the political independence of public service media.”
Mijatović said Hungary had missed the opportunity provided by the recent modifications. She noted that she had sent a legal analysis with detailed recommendations on how to bring the law in line with OSCE commitments to the Hungarian Government on 28 February.
“These recommendations are not reflected in the adopted law, but my Office remains ready to further assist Hungary,” she added.
Recommendations in the OSCE legal analysis include:
• The legal requirements on balanced coverage and other content prescriptions should be deleted from the laws.
• Editorial independence must be safeguarded – media should be free to decide on content.
• Different forms of media - print, broadcast and online – require different rules.
• Vague notions in the legislation must be clarified.
• Registration requirements are excessive and should be deleted.
• The regulatory body should be independent and competent; real objectivity and plurality should be introduced through the means of appointment of organs governing the media sector.
• Print media should be self-regulated and not under the jurisdiction of the regulatory body.
The full legal review and recommendations can be accessed here: http://www.osce.org/fom/75990