Hungary to compromise on media law

It’s been quite a month but the hullaballoo over Hungary’s controversial media reforms now seems certain to be entering its appeasement phase after Hungary indicated its willingness to compromise on certain controversial aspects of the law earlier this week.

Jonathan Todd a spokesperson for the EU’s Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes said that Ms. Kroes who received a letter from Hungarian Justice Minister Tibor Navrancis on Monday ( Jan. 31) had detected a ‘’ clear indication in today’s letter that they were prepared to modify the law if need be and her staff were ‘’ eager to quickly discuss technical aspects… as soon as possible’’ the Associated Press reported yesterday ( Feb 1st).

He further added that he expected the situation to be ‘’ a matter of weeks rather than months’’ and that the prospect of infringement proceedings has all but disappeared. Previously it had been mooted that unless the government gave satisfactory answers to the concerns of the EU executive it would have faced the possibility of a ‘’ formal notice’’ and even sanctions. In a letter sent to Budapest on Jan. 21 Kroes had set a two week deadline for Hungary to show it complied with EU rules.

Ms. Kroes had highlighted her main objections to the law being the provisions stipulating compulsory registration process for media outlets, the legislation’s extension to media registered outside of Hungary and stipulations regarding ‘’ balanced coverage’’ which rights groups have claimed could lead to censorship.

Overall the whole episode has also been a source of embarrassment for the EU as it seeks to promote democratic standards elsewhere especially in its Eastern neighborhood but more so for the Hungarian Presidency as it seeks to push forth its own agenda and priorities as part of its EU Presidency. Hopefully with the media law episode drawing to a close, the government can now move beyond an issue that has received so much negative attention in the Western press. For an excellent overview of Hungary in the Western media.

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