Council of Europe aims to push for more amendments to media laws

The Council of Europe plans to continue its negotiations with Hungarian officials in order to bring the media laws in compliance with Council of Europe freedom of expression standards, according to a letter from Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland to a group of domestic NGOS. The letter states that the Council of Europe officials have asked Hungarian authorities for another round of cooperation following discussions this January that led to an agreement to make some modifications of the media laws. Once the Hungarian Government agrees to the proposed cooperation, the Council of Europe says it plans to involve additional stakeholders to participate in the discussions.

Secretary Jagland’s letter was sent in response to a request from a group of leading NGOs, who had asked the Council of Europe to continue negotiating additional changes to the media laws. Following discussions between the Council of Europe and Hungarian officials this January, the Hungarian Government agreed to introduce a set of amendments that include measures aimed at strengthening the independence of Hungary’s Media Authority. These negotiations were criticized by domestic and international civil society groups for failing to make any immediate changes to the Media Council’s composition. The body is currently composed of all five members who were nominated and elected by Hungary’s governing majority.