SEENPM Issues a Report on the Hungarian Media Law Curtailing Press Freedom

However, the long-awaited media reform bill was submitted without any substantial consultations or discussions, seemingly by two MPs (rather than the government itself), which made it possible to omit the legally prescribed public debate. The official submitters of the bill have never let their voice be heard in connection with the media law.

The three reform bills – one on the general content of media, one on the structure of supervisory bodies and authority, and an amendment to the Constitution of the Republic – were submitted on 11th June and two of them were passed within a rather short time, on 22 July. Pal Schmitt, then Speaker of the House but already elected as the next President of the Republic cooperated with the government by postponing his signature until the latest date possible ( on 6 August, the day when previous President László Sólyom already had left office). It was expected that if Sólyom, who was a constitutional lawyer, had received the act for signature, he would have exercised his presidential right of constitutional veto and would have sent the act to the Constitutional Court. Thus, it was the new President, Schmitt, who signed the act (that he himself had signed as Speaker), thus promulgating it very quickly, within only two working days (by 10 August).

The content of the act attracted professional criticism in the summer, but little public attention. Only in December, when the final pieces of the legislative package were passed, did the Hungarian press react, attracting international attention. The Act on Press Freedom and Media Content (CIV. of 2010, hereafter: Smtv.) was submitted on 11 June and passed on 2 November, while the last part, the Act on Media Services and Mass Communication (CLXXXV. of 2010, hereafter: Mttv.) was submitted on 22 November, and passed on 21 December. This latter time span was too short to generate public discussion on a law that was 179 pages long and regulates a complex area, involving the economy, constitutional rights, public service, state aid, and other fields of law.

To download the full report, click on the link below.

Bayer_Media Law