Frank La Rue criticised the media law, the independence of the new Media Council and raised concern over the protection of journalists’ sources. He said that the adoption of the media law and a subsequent amendment had not been preceded by broad consultations with voters.
The rapporteur said that Hungary’s lawmakers had disregarded several of the recommendations he had made during an April visit to Budapest – including one calling for consultations with social players before adopting the contested media legislation.
“Representatives of many European countries feel that the Hungarian media law is not in line with the laws effective in those countries,” La Rue said.
He stressed the importance of the independence of the media, and said that the Hungarian Media Council could only become a creditable body when its decisions reflected the views of both the opposition parties and of civil organisations.
Head of the parliamentary committee Tamas Lukacs insisted that the media law was in line with European norms and added that Hungary had made amendments to the clauses criticised by the international community.
Lawmaker for the ruling Fidesz party Ilona Ekes said that the “hysterical” reactions to the media law were unfounded.
Representatives of the Society for Civil Liberties (TASZ) and Amnesty International Hungary said that despite the modifications the Hungarian law still went against European norms.
During preparations for the meeting, an argument developed between Lukacs and La Rue, when Lukacs refused to invite the civil groups La Rue had suggested to the meeting. Lukacs said popular support for the suggested organisations was overrated.