2010-12-29 Amnesty: Sweeping new media law threatens freedom of expression in Hungary

As reported by Amnesty International and Der Speigel Hungary is introducing a new law coming into force on January 1, 2011 (the same time Hungary will be taking over the EU presidency) which will impose unprecedented restrictions on the freedom of the press in the European Union.

Amnesty:“A newly created National Media and Communications Authority (NMHH) will have the power to impose heavy fines, ranging from up to 35,000 Euros for periodicals to up to 730,000 Euros for broadcast media, for content it considers to run counter to the “public interest”, “common morality” and “national order”. Fines can also be imposed for “unbalanced” news reporting.

None of these terms are clearly defined in the law and their interpretation is left to the NMHH. The NMHH also has the power to shut down news outlets.

There are also concerns about the political independence of the National Media and Communications Authority, whose five board members were appointed by the ruling Fidesz party without broader consultation or any parliamentary scrutiny.”

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