Archive item

Title: Opinion of the Commissioner for Human Rights on Hungary’s media legislation in light of Council of Europe standards on freedom of the media
Other/original title:
Publisher: Council of Europe
Files: Opinion of the Commissioner for Human Rights on Hungary’s media legislation in light of Council of Europe standards on freedom of the media.pdf
Abstract: In February 2011, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg issued this Opinion on the Hungarian media legislation that had been adopted in November / December 2010, and in the Opinion specifies a number of areas in which the new legislation fails to meet Council of Europe media freedom standards. The first section of the Opinion highlights provisions of the legislation that constitute encroachments on media freedom, citing reasons why these provisions are at variance with Council of Europe standards. The second section highlights threats which the legislation poses to media independence and pluralism. In particular, the Opinion takes aim at subjective criteria in the new legislation about the information and coverage media must provide; the sanctions which the new laws impose for infringements of the laws; new registration requirements for a broad range of media, including print and online media; exceptions to the protection of journalists’ sources; weakened Constitutional guarantees of media pluralism; the lack of independence in the new media regulatory bodies, and the appointment procedures to these bodies; a lack of safeguards for the independence of public service broadcasting, and the appointment procedures for public broadcasting management positions; and an absence of effective domestic remedies in challenging the decisions of the new media authorities. In addition to observing these individual weaknesses, the Opinion finds that the laws as a whole threaten "a corrosive cumulative impact," since they fail "to guarantee foreseeability, impartiality and proportionality of application, particularly in terms of the sanctions put forward for perceived infringements"; and the "checks and balances of media regulation appear to be undermined by an apparent lack of independence on the part of the Media Authority". The Commissioner concludes that Hungary "should abide by its commitments as a member state of the Council of Europe".
Publication/ adoption date: 2011-02-25
Language: English
Rights: © Council of Europe; "Unless otherwise indicated, reproduction of material posted on Council of Europe websites, [..] is authorised for private use and for informational and educational uses relating to the Council of Europe’s work. This authorisation is subject to the condition that the source be indicated and no charge made for reproduction."