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Hungary reins in freedom of press

with a law passed by the Parliament

Budapest is about leading the EU Presidency for the first time in history but it meets the date with a law strongly limiting freedom of press in the Country. The bill provides for:
• abolition of the newspaper and tv editorial boards, replaced by only one national press agency called Mti, and controlled by the Government,
• obligation of journalists to reveal their sources for reasons of national security,
fines to 700,000 euros for tvs and 89,000 euros for newspapers and Websites in case of "violations of the public interest" with articles which are politically biased or hurt human dignity,
• a maximum limit of 20% for crime news in the news broadcasts,
• 40% of music shall have to be Hungarian.

In July Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the chief of the rightwing party Fidesz, established a tlc national Authority run by a guarantor and formed by five members all appointed by the ruling party. Afterwards the government established a single entity comprising public tv (Mtv and Duna), public radio (Mr) and press agency Mti, with directors chosen by the guarantor. In the end on Monday, 20 December the Parliament definitively passed a 175-article law ruling the behaviour of press organs.

This bill met lots of protests: nearly 1,500 people gathered in front of the Parliament. The OECD (Organization for Cooperation and Development in Europe) and the IPI (International Press Institute) expressed their concern in their latest reports on freedom of press in the Country.

Hungary moves to tighten media, in the Financial Times, 21 December 2010

22 December 2010

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