European broadcasters fret over Hungarian media law

February 7, 2011

European broadcasters have expressed concern to Hungary's prime minister that a new law will curtail freedom of speech and be incompatible with other member states of the European Union. The timing of the law, Jan. 1, has fuelled criticism from media and rights groups all over the continent, because that was the day Hungary assumed the revolving presidency of the European Union. The law allows the state to impose stiff fines on any media agency deemed to have jeopardized national security, and in that event, force journalists to reveal their sources. The EBU, representing 75 state and private broadcasters spanning 56 countries, has written to the Hungarian President Viktor Orban highlighting its concern that press freedom will be eroded.

The law crept up almost unnoticed, and it is only now after it has come into force that it has gained much attention across Europe. Given Hungary’s membership of the European Union, it is likely the law will at least be modified.

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