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European Commission response to Hungarian media law described as “inadequate”

Widely resented: Protesters hold a banner depicting Prime Minister Viktor Orban as a king on TV during a demonstration against the government's new media law in Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, January 27, 2011. Journalist organizations and the European Union have already expressed concern at the new disputed media law, highlighting that it imposes extensive fines against journalists and publishers if they refuse to disclose their sources or publish information deemed inappropriate by the government.

Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) has described as “inadequate” the response of the European Commission’s Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes to Hungary’s controversial new media law and urged the country’s MPs to amend the measure.

It said Croes’ demands to the Hungarian government were “in the right direction” but “not enough to remove all the threats to media independence and freedom” since the law was passed on December 23 last year.

“The Commission has recognised that certain points of EU law are being complied with and has challenged the law’s dubious notion of ‘balanced news,’ but is strangely silent about the crucial setting up of a media council and the powers it will have,” the press freedom organisation said. “The new law allows foreign media to escape penalties but threats will still hang over local journalists and bloggers. Threats to the privacy of sources, which is vital to investigative journalism, also remain.”

“The Commission is however offering the Hungarian government and parliament a face-saving way out and a last chance to make substantial changes in a law which is still in large part totally unacceptable. We call on Hungarian MPs to assume their responsibilities and remove all aspects of the law that conflict with EU directives. Setting up a media council with all the powers it will have must be cancelled.”

“We deplore the ‘official’ silence of the European Parliament, which has simply debated the issue and not passed a resolution clearly condemning a law which tarnishes the EU’s good reputation for defending media freedom. The credibility of the European Parliament’s media freedom resolutions depends on its ability to react quickly and coherently. We also urge all the European Parliament’s political groupings to contact their Hungarian colleagues and persuade them to hold serious discussions with all those concerned by the new law.”

Date posted: February 19, 2011 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 136