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January 21 2012


European Commission, Neelie Kroes: Defending media pluralism in Hungary

Europe.eu :: In 2011 the European Commission used the full extent of its legal powers to improve the Hungarian Media Law. The original version of that law could have breached fundamental rights and EU laws in four areas. Without hesitation I pushed for change and achieved those changes. These four issues comprise disproportionate application of rules on balanced information, application of fines to broadcasters legally established and authorised in other Member States, rules on registration and authorisation of media service providers and rules against offending individuals, minorities or majorities.

In taking this action the Commission abided by the binding principle that the EU can enforce fundamental rights only in areas subject to EU law, while in other respects this is the task of national courts and, if necessary, the European Court of Human Rights.

This left the Hungarian Constitutional Court to address matters of concern outside of EU law, which it did in a ruling on 19 December stating that media law “unconstitutionally limited freedom of the written press.” The judgement continues to be valid after the recent judicial changes in Hungary.

Some key elements of the judgement take immediate effect.  For example, the court has tightened the conditions under which journalists can be required to reveal their sources; while the Hungarian media authority cannot compel media outlets to hand over data. Other changes must be made by 31 May 2012, including removing the institution of the Media Ombudsman and removing the obligation for the written press to “respect human dignity” and not to use its content to invade privacy.

I urge the Hungarian authorities to respect this court ruling, and to implement it with the same speed and efficiency they applied to the Commission’s assessment on the EU law aspects of this media law.

[Neelie Kroes:] But I know that media pluralism and freedom cannot be defined and defended by laws alone. At the end of the day the successful practice of pluralism depends also on an atmosphere and a political culture that supports these ideas.

That is why we have followed up our legal demands on Hungary with an EU-wide high level group that is examining what media pluralism and freedom means in practice, and what can be done to improve the culture and law that supports it. That group is led by former President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga of Latvia. We need to think seriously about whether the EU has sufficient powers in this area to meet public expectations about the defence of media pluralism.

Neelie Kroes is Vice President of the European Commission and responsible for the Digital Agenda for Europe.

Above part is an excerpt of the original post - Continue to read Neelie Kroes, blogs.ec.europa.eu

January 02 2012


Hungary "silences" its media: anti-government radio Klub Radio lost its wavelength

BBC :: Exactly one year after the passing of a controversial media law, both public service and commercial media are back in the headlines. On 21 December the Media Council, a powerful media oversight body set up by the new legislation, announced that the main anti-government radio station, Klub Radio, had lost its bid to renew its 95.3 FM wavelength, which it has used for the past ten years. The bid was won by a completely unknown rival, Autoradio, which will take over the frequency in March - unless the legal appeal launched by Klub Radio succeeds. The subsequent storm has reached as far as Washington.

Continue to read Nick Thorpe, www.bbc.co.uk

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December 19 2011


Balazs Nagy Navarro, a Hungarian TV journalists on hunger strike

Guardian :: They began their fast four days ago and one of them, Balazs Nagy Navarro, said: "We are going to stay until things change, even if we risk hospital." Navarro, head of a trade union that represents television staff, said: "Our strike will continue until... the world realises that what is happening in Hungary under the label of 'press freedom': employees terrorised, programmes manipulated or falsified."

Continue to read Roy Greenslade, www.guardian.co.uk

March 25 2010

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