A few weeks when writing about the Hungarian media law reforms one of the things that most struck me most was the general apathy among media organizations towards the law. In fact unlike the lawyers and foreign journalists I interviewed at the time many of the major Hungary journalists said that they had no strong opinions about the law or that it is best to see how it will work out in practice before commenting publically. Indeed overall media organizations have been rather silent on the issue considering the circumstances.
Well that changed yesterday (Dec. 2) when several of Hungary’s major newspapers decided to run with blank front pages as their cover.
One of the magazines Liberal Magyar Narancs http://www.mancs.hu/ says in the small caption on an otherwise blank page that ‘The media and communications law… gives total power to the media council, and through it the government will control the internet and print media’ he further added that
‘’ Because of this, on January 1st 2011, press freedom will come to an end, and with this law freedom of speech and opinion will become obsolete. We are against this and demand that the law be withdrawn’.
The blank front page has certainly succeeded in gaining publicity with the BBC and the Irish Times all reporting about the changes thus far and proposed changes.
Parliament began debating the bill on Wednesday and with an over two thirds majority it is expected to easily pass it on the 13th of December. Regardless of the overall outcome it is nice to see the media serving its function as the fourth estate.