Archive item

Title: Hungary’s Media: The Reform Trap
Other/original title:
Publisher: Open Society Foundations
Files: Hungary’s Media_ The Reform Trap _ Open Society Foundations (OSF).pdf
Abstract: This article from February 2011 by Darian Pavli, a senior attorney with the Open Society Justice Initiative, criticizes the new media legislation that had been passed in the months previously in Hungary. Pavli argues that the "new media regime in Hungary poses clear threats to media freedom", and that "the EU’s response is failing adequately to address the problem". He argues that "an incremental process" of legislative changes "has created a situation where the whole of the reform is more insidious than the sum of its parts". The changes started with a constitutional amendment removing the state's obligation to prevent media monopolies, he writes, and proceeded with "media statutes which grant the new media-monitoring authorities unprecedented powers". In particular the vague content regulations and obligations leave the press "at the mercy of the new media council’s interpretation," while the council itself consists of "Fidesz appointees" and can wield serious sanctions. In response to the Hungarian government's claim that all elements of the new laws already exist in one EU member-state or another, Pavli argues that "this assertion is misleading, for no state has adopted a systematic package" combining them all. He also criticizes the approach by European Commissioner Neelie Kroes of "focusing narrowly on the issue of compliance with the union’s audiovisual legislation" and demanding only minor changes, since it is "likely to backfire - for it gives the Viktor Orbán government an opportunity to tweak the new laws and then claim that they conform to Brussels’s rules."
Publication/ adoption date: 2011-02-07
Language: English
Rights: Open Society Foundations, shared under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 license as per