A letter written by European Commissioner for Information Society, Neelie Kroes, has seriously criticised the Hungarian Media Law on the basis that it could be incompatible with EU law. The Commission indicates that the law is disproportionate and that it may create a restriction on free speech.
Neelie Kroes letter is addressed to the Deputy Prime Minister of Hungary, Tibor Navracsics. It is dated 21 January 2011, and leaked via a Hungarian website yesterday.
The letter is critical of the Hungarian Media Law on three counts: the obligation for
balanced coverage being made applicable to all audio-visual media providers; the country of origin principle and - most important from the Internet perspective - the registration requirements.
"The analysis of the Commission services also indicates that Article 41A requiring the registration of all media (in particular press and online media) may constitute disproportionate restrictions to the freedom of establishment and the free provision of services. "
It goes on to say that registration of all media, including online media, may constitute a disproportionate restriction on the freedom of establishment and the free provision of services. Commenting specifically on the requirement to register Internet sites and non-private blogs, the Commission said that this "can be considered an unjustified obstacle" to people who want to set up a media service in Hungary, or to provide a service to Hungary from another Member State.
The Commission goes on to say that such an obstacle is "not compatible with the principle of proportionality". Moreover, it is an "unjustified restriction ...on the right to freedom of expression."
Mrs Kroes has given the Hungarian government 2 weeks - which I think takes us to 4 February - to respond to the Commission and to answer how it will address these criticisms. She has also indicated that her services are continuing to analyse the law.
This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK:England and Wales License. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ It may be used for non-commercial purposes only, and the author's name should be attributed. The correct attribution for this article is: Monica Horten (2011) Leaked Commission letter damns Hungarian Media Law 25 January 2011