Archive item

Title: Joint position paper to the High Level Group on Media Freedom and Pluralism created by the European Commission on the Hungarian Media Law and its Application
Other/original title:
Publisher: Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU)
Files: jointpospaperhes_hclu_ekpp_smm_jan._19.[1].pdf
Abstract: On 17 January 2012, four Hungarian NGOs published this joint position paper about the Hungarian media laws and their application and submitted it to the High Level Group (HLG) on Media Freedom and Pluralism, a body established by European Commissioner Neelie Kroes and chaired by former Latvian President Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga. In the paper, they request the HLG "to create principles on media pluralism and press freedom at the European level" because "we think that principles with compulsory effect on Member States would provide a guarantee against authoritarian governmental attempts to control the press" -- such as those by the Hungarian government. While the organisations acknowledge that "partial changes" were made to the controversial Hungarian media laws of 2010 upon pressure of the European Commission and the Hungarian Constitutional Court, the law’s "fundamental logic remained untouched". At its core remains "a very powerful, Fidesz-dominated authority," they write, arguing that "several decisions of the Media Council have shown that it lacks the political independence necessary to safeguard free and independent media". Secondly, the public service media have been restructured in a way that "allows governmental influence on both its personal and its programming decisions". The paper reviews the Constitutional Court decision of December 2011, which annulled parts of the laws but did not substantively change the "big picture," and explains how the critical Klubrádió station lost its frequency. The paper also flags the Media Council's licensing and tendering practices which are helping Fidesz "acquire control of the media scene". The organisations conclude that "the Hungarian legal system is not capable" to protect freedom of expression anymore and argue that "it would not be undue interference" for the EU to set up enforceable rules on issues such as the independence of regulatory authorities, the limits of their powers and the transparency of their actions, ownership concentration, and the independence of public service television.
Publication/ adoption date: 2012-01-17
Language: English
Rights: Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU). Permission for reproducing HCLU documents in this digital archive granted by email.