January 29th, 2013

Council of Europe gives Hungary passing marks on media-law reforms

The Council of Europe (CoE) has ended the dialogue with Hungary about disputed points in the country’s media regulation as the government has given satisfactory answers to the concerns voiced by the pan-European organisation, CoE Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland told the press in Brussels on Tuesday morning.

The CoE is not in a position to have a say in who should preside Hungary’s Media Council and what decisions the council should make. It only seeks to make sure that appropriate checks and balances are in place in media regulation, he said.

Due to cooperation between the CoE and the European Commission, things are going “in the right direction” as the media regulatory authority to be set up will differ from what the government had originally planned, he said.

The secretary general said the reform measures in Hungary’s media regulations and justice administration had drawn criticism in Europe over allowing “excessive central control” and prompted both the Venice Commission, the CoE’s advisory body on constitutional matters, and the European Union to state an opinion. But indicating that it had no appropriate legal means concerning media regulatory matters, the European Council asked the CoE to start a dialogue with the Hungarian authorities, he said.

Jagland noted that the CoE had then started consultations with Hungary in line with the relevant agreement.

The secretary general said that during his first visit to Hungary he had indicated to the government that the points he had made reference to were commitments the government had undertaken by signing that agreement.

As a result of that dialogue, Hungary has changed several rules of law. The institutions concerned have become independent and the new system no longer allows the executive to exercise control over the media, Jagland said.

Andras Cser-Palkovics, the head of parliament’s media committee, interpreted Jagland’s remarks as “proof that the hysteria surrounding the media law lacked any substantive basis”.

“The fuss about the media law was part of a campaign of hatred (against Hungary),” Cser-Palkovics said, adding that foreign sentiment against the country had been fuelled by Hungary’s left. The country expects left-wingers to apologise for a “lengthy, unjustified, and mean political attack”, he added.

The opposition Socialist Party responded with a statement mockingly signed, “Andras Cser-Palkovics, agitprop chief of the People’s Republic of Hungary”.

“Time has proven that the fuss about the media law was part of a campaign of hatred incited by imperialistic and reactionary forces against our people’s republic,” the Socialists wrote.

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  • Paul

    “…. as the media regulatory authority to be set up will differ from what the government had originally planned…..”….Good. Pressure works…( smile.) Still have to
    see the results though.

    “Andras Cser-Palkovics, the head of parliament’s media committee, interpreted Jagland’s remarks as “proof that the hysteria surrounding the media law lacked any substantive basis”.

    L.O.L…..something wrong with the timeline here though…..The so called “hysteria” was before the changes, stupido.

    The so called “hysteria”…made the adjustments possible.

  • Democrat

    I just hope that the CoE does not take its eye off the ball. This government is quite capable of agreeing something and then passing a law which says something different. How many times has this “unchangable” media law been changed?

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