Statement of the International Press Freedom Mission to Hungary

The international partnership mission to Hungary from

November 14th  to 16th  2011, having met with lawyers, journalists,

editors, professional associations, representatives of civil society, the new

media authorities, and the government representative and discussed the

situation regarding the enactment and implementation of the new media law

finds:

·         The

confluence of a regulatory environment, deteriorating economic conditions, technological change and convergence

in media, and a lack of unity and solidarity within the professional community

has created a perfect storm that threatens the future of independent journalism

in Hungary;

·         The

continuing controversy over the Hungarian media has opened up an important debate about the role of journalism and

media in democratic life in Europe;

    ·         Hungary's

model of regulation is broad, uncertain and inconsistent with European standards of media freedom, it

is creating a chilling effect and its export to other countries will undermine

free expression;

·         The media

regulation, particularly with regard to protection of sources, is incompatible with  European 

and international law;
   
·         Fresh

concerns arise over the limited possibilities for judicial review of the decisions of the media authority

and the media council;

·        

Co-regulation is no substitute for self-regulation and in Hungary it is effectively outsourcing censorship with the

co-operation of national and international media owners alike;

·         The

licensing regime in Hungary  potentially

undermines the promotion of diversity and pluralism which is an

obligation under European and international treaties;

·         Questions

remain over the capacity of the reorganized system of public service media to provide pluralist, diverse and

quality information as a public good;

·         The

concerns expressed by the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, the OSCE, the UN Special Rapporteur on

Freedom of Expression and international press freedom groups regarding the

media law remain valid and should be the subject of further review and dialogue

with the authorities.

The International Partnership Mission of freedom of

expression and media development groups consisted of:
Article 19, Freedom House, Index on Censorship,

Independent Journalism Centre Moldova, International Press Institute,

International Media Support, European Federation of Journalists, Media

Diversity Institute, Open Society Media Programme, the Network for Reporting on

Eastern Europe, South East Europe Media Organisation and South East European

Network for Professionalisation of Media.

Budapest
November 16th 2011