Parliament passes media constitution

Budapest, November 2 (MTI) – Parliament on Tuesday passed a new set of rules called the “Media Constitution” which will regulate Hungary media on a day-to-day basis.

The bill, submitted to parliament in June, is the last in a series constituting the centre-right Fidesz government’s media package.

    The new law is designed to regulate all media, including news portals and on-line publications. It also defines the rights of users and responsibilities of the press.

    The new legislation seeks to protect press freedom, and stipulates that journalists shall have the right not to disclose their sources unless the source has revealed confidential information and violated the law. It also stipulates that journalists shall not be held responsible for violating regulations in their efforts to obtain public data, if those data cannot be accessed in a regular way.

    Contrary to earlier proposals, there will be no significant changes in the rules governing right of reply and correction. Current regulations stipulating that an interviewee cannot withdraw statements unless their meaning has been changed or distorted, will also be left in place.

    Mandatory registration of news portals and internet publications will not apply to internet blogs to avoid indirect censorship.

    According to the new law, the media — with the exception of the printed media and online publications — shall provide “factual, timely and balanced” information, thus striving for political impartiality.

    Under the new legislation, inciting hatred against nations, ethnic, linguistic or other minorities, majority groups, churches or religious groups is prohibited.

    The legislation seeks to protect minors from pornographic or extremely violent content.

    The law will control media content broadcast from another country which targets Hungary if the service provider is assumed to have moved abroad to avoid Hungarian regulations.

    The bill, submitted by two representatives of the ruling Fidesz party, will become effective on January 1, 2011.