Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Is Hungary fit to hold the European Council Presidency.

I know, I don't want any country to hold the Presidency of the European Council. I don't want there to be an European Council. But it exists and what it does matters, so the passage last night of its new media law should concern us all. After all these chaps will, for the next 6 months have a serious influence on leglisation and our lives.

The law sets up a new organisation, the National Media and Communications Authority (NMHH) which will according to the WSJ
expand the state’s power to monitor and penalize private media, allowing a media regulator appointed by the ruling party to fine journalists if coverage is deemed unbalanced.
The law covers broadcasters, newspapers, weeklies and news websites.
The council handpicked by the ruling party will have the power to fine television and radio stations as much as 200 million forints (about €700,000) for coverage deemed politically out of balance. Maximum fines for national newspapers and websites were set at 25 million forints and for weeklies at 10 million forints.

The Media Council will also have the right to access documents before publication. Journalists will have to disclose their sources on matters of national security, the parliament decided Tuesday.
But according to reports it is so badly, and broadly drafted that it may even have similar powers over blogs. How they plan to police this is a different matter. But it might explain why their presidency blog doesn't allow comments. If it did and they were critical their own blog may fall foul of their law.


Grahnlaw said...

It is astounding that media censorship legislation of the Hungarian kind can be passed in a member state of the Council of Europe and the European Union, and it is outright embarrasing that Hungary is going to take over the presidency of the Council of the EU in about a week.

What have the EU institutions said and done since the censorship law was adopted?

banned said...

The concept of impartiality should be for public bodies only, not privatly owned media.
This is the same Hungary that recently passed a law making it illegal to deny that Communists crimes were not equal to those of the Nazis

Banned, punishing deniers

and which now seeks to extend that throughout the EU.

All Seeing Eye, EU Thought Crimes

I used to like Hungary.

O'Neill said...

Unfortunately the Media law is but the tip of the authoritarian iceburg- private pensions are to be seized by the government in January, foreign companies have been targetted for "solidarity tax", the judicial system is under very real threat.

I am pro-EU (but v sceptical of the EUcracy) but if the Orban regime get away with these actions and are also given the bauble of the EU Presidency then all moral authority Europe might have has disappeared.

For those in interested in reading more, I have done a post here-

As in 1956, democrats need our support now (whether you like the EU or not),let's hope they're not let down again

Gawain Towler said...

O'Neill, couldn't get that link to work, Can you repost?

O'Neill said...

Here you go-