The new Hungarian Media Authority cuts its teeth on moral issues

The new media law came into effect after midnight today but the Media Authority has already been hard at work looking into media transgressions under the old media law. And, by golly, they already found at least two problems. Very big problems!

The first involved Tilos Rádió (Forbidden Radio). Why is it forbidden? Because it started as a pirate radio station in August 1991 after the people who launched the station had had enough of the frequency moratorium imposed by the Antall government.

Apparently nowadays very few people actually listen to Tilos Rádió, but one of their listeners, O.Á, was certainly tuned in on September 2 at 17:52:54 when a song by American rapper Ice-T was played. According to O.Á. it was "an opus encouraging violence" which "leads minors toward linguistic primitiveness." O.Á. thought that "it would be important that the radio wouldn't allow popular entertainers to transmit songs leading to destructive worldviews."

The Media Authority sent O.Á's letter on to Tilos Rádió with its own analysis of the station's dreadful transgression and demanded an explanation. The analysis, which included a translation of the English lyrics, was eight pages long! (Csaba Molnár [MSZP] wrote an open letter to Annamária Szalai and inquired how much the translation cost.) According to the Authority Hungarian youngsters under sixteen are well versed in the English language and that knowledge comes largely from music. However, they admitted that they didn't find any reliable statistics on the linguistic knowledge of youngsters under 16.

Tilos Rádió made the letter public and also published their own answer. They explained to the staff of the Media Authority that first of all Ice-T's English is barely understandable to those English speakers who are not familiar with black slang and it is very unlikely that Hungarian youngsters would be capable of understanding the rapper's English. Also, according to the radio's statistics only 4% of the listeners are between the ages of 13 and 18. They have no statistics on youngsters under sixteen.

HVG immediately got in touch with Ice-T, who got a kick out of the story. He laughed at the whole thing and ended the interview with "I love it. People are still afraid of me." No wonder. After all, he was born in 1958. Not exactly a youngster anymore. And he now plays a detective on the popular and mainstream "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." The song in question, by the way, was "It's On," the lyrics of which are available on the Internet. I very much doubt that too many Hungarians, young or old, would be able to understand them.

The funny thing about the whole affair is that if people couldn't understand Ice-T's lyrics before, now they can read the whole obscene thing in Hungarian. And I'm sure that Tilos Rádió's popularity will also go up as a result of the Media Authority's inquiry.

The other problem facing the Authority involved a recent blog article by W. Árpád Tóta, a very talented commentator, entitled "Kompország vitorlát bont" (Ferry country sets sail). Here a little explanation is needed. Endre Ady, the Hungarian poet, called Hungary a ferry country that cannot decide whether it belongs to the west or to the east but usually ends up in the east which for Ady meant backwardness and regression. In the blog Tóta talked about a lot of missteps of the Orbán government, including economic ones, but the important message of the piece was that although many people compare Orbán to Kádár, who is indeed the model for him, in fact Kádár even at the age of seventy had more brains than Orbán has at 47. It's true that Kádár didn't live long enough to experience the revolution of the Internet, but surely he would have caught on that the Internet brought a new era to which the powers-that-be must adjust. But Fidesz is "astronomically" behind times when its politicians don't realize that they might be able to shut up Tamás Bauer and József Debreczeni when they write in the print media but what they cannot stop is this: 

www.szalaiannamaria.net (18++)

Well, this is pretty gross montage picturing a penis and the face of Annamária Szalai, but Tóta is right. It is impossible to stop it. On YouTube there is a video from a film about Adolf Hitler but with Hungarian captions which makes no bones about the fact that although we see Hitler on the screen, it is Viktor Orbán who is speaking. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puq0JjCB_js&feature=fvst

But let's return to Tóta's piece. It had scarcely been put up on the Internet when a letter arrived at the offices of Index where Tóta's blog appears with the following demand: "Please immediately remove the link which is vulgar, tasteless, and repulsive." I just checked, the link is still there. The letter came from the "Tartalomfelügyelő Főosztály" (Department of Contents Supervision) which some have already compared to the Thought Police, the secret police of Oceania in Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four. 

 

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Mutt Damon
Guest

Dang! Now you should get a letter too … 🙂
What is the link to Tóta’s blog?

Vándorló
Guest
Matt L
Guest

Thanks for the trip down memory lane Eva!
I miss the bad & rebellious Ice-T of my youth. I grew up in Southern California listening to his music. Now he is just another New York City actor working for another Law and Order franchise. It warms my heart to hear that the media authority is taking this anti-social menace seriously.
Listening to this sort of music has detrimental effects. Surely, if it wasn’t for rap music (and punk and heavy metal) I would have grown up to be a useful member of society, like a doctor, fireman, dentist or lawyer. Instead I grew up to be a college history professor. A shame never to be expunged from my family name.

John T
Guest

This level of pettiness is just plain daft.

Guest

The German magazine “Der Spiegel” is already making fun of the Ice-T affair in its online edition:
http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/0,1518,737338,00.html
“Verfahren gegen Privatradio
Ungarns Medienaufseher nutzen neue Befugnisse”
What’ll be next ?

Guest

Oh, I forgot:
My wife’s son and I were just a few days ago discussing this concept of “pirate radio” that tilos used to be – he remembers the time very well, when they had to move their broadcasting equipment around so they would not be caught …
Anyone here old enough to remember the English pirates like Radio Caroline on those little islands in the North Sea ?

Mutt Damon
Guest

I guess we can expect a couple of more of these very quickly as our Queen Of Porn will get her feet wet. This is needed to give some legitimacy to the committee. It will be very entertaining ..

pusztaranger
Guest

The media authority’s letter to Tilos is dated *Dec.13th.* They worked according to the new media law before it was even valid law. And the song in question was played on *September 2nd, 2010.*
What/who’s next, is what I want to know.

Rodrigo
Guest

Guys, I know this case is a good target to shoot at but at least note that this song can’t be played in the USA before 10pm, otherwise the FCC can fine the radio station without hesitation. (Don’t get me wrong, I still think it’s ridiculous). Also, remember the NFL final with Justin Timberlake exposing Janet Jackson’s boob and the following legal action.
This has nothing to do with the new media law.

An
Guest

The thing is that this media council makes itself ridiculous even when it is right.
Yes, the song should have been played after 9 pm by the then current regulations or should have had a warning before it. But instead of sending out a brief warning to the radio stating the consequences of the breach, they sent an 8 page letter in which they presented some ridiculous arguments (e.g. no. of people with intermediate level English language exam), included the translation of the song (of which was, by the way, several lines were mistranslated) and did all that using a lecturing, very condescending tone (I saw the copy of the letter, the radio posted it on their website). I can’t blame Tilos Radio for making fun of their over-zealousness in their reply.
This is not why the new media low is wrong, but does show the pettiness of the new media council.

cid
Guest

Is this for real?
“Please immediately remove the link which is vulgar, tasteless, and repulsive.” I just checked, the link is still there. The letter came from the “Tartalomfelügyelő Főosztály”
I can’t believe it. Did Index cave? I can’t see the link on their site anymore.
Who the fuck does this bitch think she is?

Vándorló
Guest

@cid: The link is still on the Tóth W. Árpád blog, but you have to scroll down.
Most of the day everyone from HunHír, Mandiner, Index through to the Facebook campaign in support of ‘A million people for press freedom’ (“Egymillióan a magyar sajtószabadságért”) have been hanging their heads in collective shame and disbelief at Schmitt Pál’s New Year message: “Isten, áld meg a magyart! Jó kedvel, bőséggel!”
The mistakes (and biased vocabulary choices) are clearly pointed out visually here: http://egyenlito.blog.hu/2011/01/01/schmitt_pal_fennhatosaga
From the far right to the far left this President seems determined to humiliate the nation.

An
Guest

It was pretty funny today, Index came out with section headings like “Minden nagyon jo” (“everything is very good”), “Minden nagyon szep”: (“everything is very nice”), “Mindennel meg vagyok elegedve” (“I am very satisfied with everything”), ” Az elet gyonyoru” (“Life is beautiful”) and “Sose volt meg ilyen jo” (“We never had it so good”).

cid
Guest

@Vandorlo
yes I see it’s still on Toth’s blog but what about Index? Didn’t they post the link to his blog earlier and then removed it following the Thought Police’s letter ?
And why doesn’t index publish that letter?
Or am I getting something wrong?

John G
Guest

Also missing are the links to the video of the comedic parody of Schmitt’s New Year’s Greeting. It was found on youtube before the official one was posted. Now I can’t find any links, or the video, only the official one. Does anybody have that link?? And if so would they post it. It is an SNL type of spoof.

Mutt Damon
Guest

Pal Smitt President had 2 typos in the first line of Hungarian national anthem in his new year speech:
“Isten, áld meg a magyart! Jó kedvel, bőséggel!”
This is the cached page. Scroll down to the bottom.
http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:8AaAHqKc6UQJ:www.keh.hu/index.php%3Fsubmenu%3Darticles%26cat%3D22%26id%3D573%26details%3D1+http://www.keh.hu/index.php%3Fsubmenu%3Darticles%26cat%3D22%26id%3D573%26details%3D1

Paul
Guest

I am still trying to digest the sheer bizarreness of someone trying to translate Ice T’s lyrics into Hungarian. They’d need to be translated them into English first!
Still, heartwarming stuff. So far, Fidesz seem intent on reassuring me that the worst isn’t going to happen after all. This bunch of idiots couldn’t fight their way out of a wet paper bag, let alone run a country.
And, yes, wolfi, some of us are that old! Most of them were on ships, only Essex, 390 and City were on the old WWII sea forts.
And Caroline is still going strong – on the internet and satellite these days, since the transmitters, etc on the Ross Revenge was destroyed by the British government (all hail the Land of the Free), with the occasiional low-power special licence MW broadcasts: http://www.radiocaroline.co.uk/#home.html

Vándorló
Guest

@John G: There’s a mountain of spoof stuff backing up. I’m pretty sure the one you mean can be found on the facebook group ‘Those who aren’t listening to Pál Schmitt at New Year’ (“Akik nem hallgatják meg Schmitt Pált szilveszterkor”)
http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Akik-nem-hallgatjak-meg-Schmitt-Palt-szilveszterkor/179954092028571
It has a few video posted, as well as links to other spoof sites. It’s childish, I know, but the “Schmitt Yourself” site is worth trying, over at: schmittyourself.info
@cid: I only read the blog post a few days ago (and had a late start to the day today) so don’t know what was or wasn’t on index earlier. You can be sure that for every one link that is taken down ten will spring up to replace it.
Orbán thinks this is still 2000, when he had Magyar Nemzet print a list of all journalists that were undesirables. They don’t appear to have heard of citizen journalism, social networks or crowd sourcing. It is embarrassing to watch.

Mutt Damon
Guest

I think he was spoofing himself.
Bozo doesn’t seem to know that 500,000 Hungarians live outside of the EU. It get’s better and better. We are looking at a fun year ahead. Let’s just laugh it up 🙂

Paul
Guest

Can someone take pity on those of us who struggle with Hungarian and explain (slowly) why the Schmitt things was so bad? I understand the Himnusz typos, but surely there’s more to it than that?
My wife sat and listened to his speech with a tear in her eye, and seemed very happy with the sentiments he expressed, so I’m a bit puzzled by all this.
Cheers.

An
Guest

@Paul: The biggest nonsense was the part where he talked about the EU presidency and said something along the lines that how all Hungarians living in Europe will be united under one governance (“fennhatosag”) for this period of time, though not in the legal sense, but spiritually “even if for only half a year our nation can be united”.
This is utter nonsense, obviously. For one, not all ethnic Hungarians who live outside Hungary’s border live in the EU.
Secondly, what is this talk about having “fennhatosag” (authority, control, governance – don’t know which would be the best word) over anybody in the EU? This is not what the EU presidency is about.

Mutt Damon
Guest

He said that during the six months of Hungarian EU presidency all Hungarians living in Europe will be under the same leadership. Well, except the ones in Ukraine, Croatia and Serbia (about a half million).
The published written text is (again) full of typos and grammatical errors. Like his thoughts were about the upcoming constitution.
Ok, let’s give the guy credit. It’s a simple, almost moving, presidential speech for most of the listeners. It works. I heard better speeches during my kids high school graduation (from students).
My favorite spoof from the Facebook is the “Smitt Pal Bullshit Bingo” …

Odin's Lost Eye
Guest
Who or what the expletive (deleted) is Ice-T. The only stuff I have seen is in the supermarkets but it is spelled differently! I had a look at the lyrics of the song called ‘ItsOn’. Most of the words are English but I am afraid (in my judgement) they do not really make any sense. Ok the experts in the ‘Media Authority’ may know better that I (after all they are Hungarian) and I am only some old flatulent whose first utterances were made, I understand, in that language. So I have only been speaking it (as a native) for the past 70 something years. Ah me! But there you go! I was told that an ‘expert’ is one who knows more and more about less and less until he knows all about nowt! The word ‘nowt’ is a Yorkshire dialect word meaning ‘nothing’ I do like the new Hungarian idea of “”Tartalomfelügyelő Főosztály” (Department of Contents Supervision). Mmm. My My they are going to busy little beavers. I do not quite know how they will get on with supervising the contents of the next edition of the ‘Ferret Breeders Quarterly’. And I just do not know how they will… Read more »
Petofi
Guest

This statement needs careful consideration:
“From the far right to the far left this President seems determined to humiliate the nation.”
It’s implications, long term, are very worrisome.
Are Orban and his minions seeking a way out of the Euro community?

Odin's Lost Eye
Guest

I am sorry I missed this
Professor you report the following:- ** “According to O.Á. it was “an opus encouraging violence” which “leads minors toward linguistic primitiveness.” O.Á. thought that “it would be important that the radio wouldn’t allow popular entertainers to transmit songs leading to destructive worldviews.” **
Oh dear I wonder what they would make about this incitement to violence general disorder, mayhem and linguistic primitiveness etc


Or this insult to human dignity they are dressed in rags and one in the foreground has no long trouser on


Finally I do not know what this little lot does to you, but they terrify me

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Vandorlo: “Orbán thinks this is still 2000, when he had Magyar Nemzet print a list of all journalists that were undesirables. They don’t appear to have heard of citizen journalism, social networks or crowd sourcing. It is embarrassing to watch.”
It would have served him well if he had spent a little more time on the internet. I’m somewhat worried about a person who simply refuses to learn new things. It smacks of a certain lack of intellectual curiosity.

Joseph Simon
Guest

January 1st: how many of you brave bloggers will apply for Hungarian citizenship. Indeed how many of you are already dual citizens. I became one right after the ‘rendszerváltás’. This Blog should encourage that. Berényi József president of the Magyar Koalició Pártja will assume Hungarian citizenship, accepting all the consequences.
I have empathy for Paul’s wife as she reacted to Schmitt Pál’s New Year address. He is trying to breathe life into an often indifferent and apathetic people. I watched the Queen’s yearly address to her loyal subjects. She is anemic, lifeless, seemingly bereft of all emotions, speaking in an affected English. Every word she utters written for her by the government.Yet her subjects liasten to her with misty eyes.

John T
Guest

“.Yet her subjects liasten to her with misty eyes” – Oh dear Joe, how wrong you are. Most people simply aren’t bothered about the monarchy these days. If nothing else, we like the pomp and ceremony and if you compare QEII to most presidents, she is a better figurehead. But the concept of a monarch is archaic, and if we became a republic tomorrow, it wouldn’t be an earth shattering event.
As for dual citizenship, I became a dual national in 2003, thinking at some stage I might emigrate from the UK. But as things stand, I’m much better off in the UK. I think Paul summed up the differences between the two countries very well in a recent post. And I don’t see the scales tilting in Hungary’s favour for some time, if at all in my lifetime.
And having seen a summary in English of Schmitt’s speech, it’s all rather verbose.

Joseph Simon
Guest

January 1st: It would be interesting to know if any of you brave bloggers are going to apply for Hungarian citizenship. Or how many of you are already dual citizens. I became one right after the ‘rendszerváltás’. I read that Berényi József a Magyar Koalició Pártja elnöke will apply for Hungarian citizenship. This Blog should encourage people of Hungarian heritage to do so. Not to mention those who were still born in Hungary.

Joseph Simon
Guest

Any comment or observation not agreeing with that of Eva is arbitrarily cut off. So much for the Spectrum that is supposed to represent a wide range of issues and ideas.

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