Media law in Hungary – an update

In a not-so-surprising (but still hopeful) turn of events, Hungary’s PM said that he was “open to making amendments to the media law, in case the European Commission deems this necessary.”

Another, less formal but – if true – more intriguing sign of doubts, and of Fidesz’ internal tension about the law came to daylight through the Economist:

Over a long dinner […] one minister first claimed the media law was no different from other European countries. He later admitted that it was, indeed, more stringent than similar laws elsewhere. “You have to understand, this is central Europe, where there is anti-Semitism and anti-gypsy sentiment. The government has to protect people.” By the time the sweet Tokaji dessert wine was poured he conceded: “OK, we fucked it up.”

On the one hand, witnessing such an honest moment of reflection is quite a sight to behold; but all the glee and Schadenfreude aside, I still would like to note how it still misses the most important point. The most crucial problem is not that the law is “stringent” in its proposed sanctions. It is that it tries to exercise an alarmingly high level of control over the media through an administrative apparatus that seems to be closely tied to one particular political party (that happens to be governing at the moment).

One could cynically say that there’s no reason to worry, because this close connection seems also to imply a close connection to incompetence. Even if – I’m not sure that would make things, principally, better.

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