Hungary amends media law but critics not satisfied | News | DW | 24.05.2012
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Hungary amends media law but critics not satisfied

The Hungarian parliament has amended a media law to restore a journalist's right to protect sources. However, it seems unlikely that the changes will be enough to satisfy the conservative government's critics.

The Hungarian parliament has passed a package of amendments to a widely critcized media law that had been introduced by Prime Minister Victor Orban's conservative Fidesz party.

The amendments, which passed by a vote of 257 to 51, come in response to a court decision last December, which ruled the legislation unconstitutional.

One amendment reverses a clause which had given the country's media regulatory body, the NMHH the power to order a journalist to reveal his or her sources for a story. However, journalists could still be forced to do so through a court order. The new legislation also removes the NMHH's power of editorial control over the print media.

Critics not satisfied

However, the opposition Politics Can Be Different (LMP) and socialist MSZP parties criticized the fact that the regulatory body retained such control over audio and visual media, meaning it could still shut down the country's only opposition radio station, Klubradio.

It also appeared unlikely that European critics of Hungary's new media law would be satisfied by the changes, mainly because they fail to change the make-up of the NMHH, whose members will still be appointed by the prime minister.

"It is very important that the elected members are considered independent and unrelated to the government or other political forces," the Council of Europe, a pan-European rights body, said in a statement when the proposals were first unveiled earlier this month.

pfd/msh (dpa, AFP)