Hungary media laws more restrictive than in other EU countries, says EC team

Brussels, January 25 (MTI) – The European Commission’s special team of experts assessing media freedom and pluralism in Europe has identified more restrictive components in Hungary’s media laws than in the legislation of other members of the community, head of the team Vaira Vike-Freiberga told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday.

Vike-Freiberga, Latvia’s former president, conceded however that Hungary’s official position that all components of the country’s media law could be found in the legislation of other states can be justified from a number of aspects.


Vike-Freiberga said that her team, set up by EC Vice-President Neelie Kroes last October, was looking at principles of media regulation rather than actual cases in each country. Hungary has elicited serious concerns because of the concentrated powers of its Media Council, which she said had authorisations which were kept separate in other countries.


If the same body appoints leaders of the public media and imposes fines to be collected before legal remedy could be obtained it could exert pressure on media providers and restrict the freedom of expression, Vike-Freiberga added.


In most countries the governing parties make an attempt to come to consensus with the opposition, Vike-Freiberga said. He added that it would be wise of Hungary’s authorities if they re-considered relevant regulations and made sure that they are not at variance with certain basic principles stipulated in international human rights agreements.


In response to Vike-Freiberga’s remarks, spokeswoman of the Hungarian media authority NMHH Karola Kiricsi said that the team had not used “the right sources” when collecting information on the Hungarian laws.

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