Hungary takes up the EU presidency amid strong concern by other countries about restrictions on media freedom imposed under a new law. Budapest says its old legislation was ineffective, since some TV channels and newspapers have been acting irresponsibly.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said Budapest will change the new law if the European Commission, which is studying the text, seeks alterations. But he said other EU states had similar rules.
A government spokeswoman said: “This media law follows the European trends. If you take a look at the points, and I hope that the critics of this law will take the time and check the points one by one, they will find that every element of this media law can be found in the Swedish, in the French or in the British regulations.”
Seeing the law as the latest in a series of power grabs, some critics condemn it. Tamas Szigete of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, said: “Some parts of the articles can be found because there are restrictions in each and every media law, but putting it all together makes the worst patchwork of media law that ever existed.”
Hungary’s national radio censured journalists recently for their silent protests over the law, while they were on the air. Press watchdogs, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the European Parliament have all criticised the new law.