Quickly, about the extraordinary meeting of LIBE

In case you don't know what LIBE stands for–I didn't until now–it is the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee of the European Parliament. The extraordinary meeting was held in Strasbourg tonight between 19:15 and 20:45. The Hungarian government was represented by Tibor Navracsics.

Let me start by noting that Magyar Nemzet with great fanfare announced this morning that according to an unnamed official of the European Commission the commissioner in charge of the case, Neelie Kroes, found nothing wrong with the media law. Other newspapers by now know that one has to be extremely careful when it comes to news coming from Magyar Nemzet. Thus HVG immediately got in touch with the spokesman of Neelie Kroes, Jonathan Todd, who called the news entirely wrong.

And indeed, the commissioner and her staff found plenty wrong with the Hungarian media law at first reading. A closer look will be forthcoming.

The first problem is that the media law has jurisdiction over media services originating in other countries, which is not in harmony with union directives.

The second concern is that the Hungarian media law extends the demand for balanced reporting in radio and television broadcasting to on-demand media services, including blogs. This particular part of the law is not written in a clear and concise fashion and thus in individual cases might lead to too great a discretion on the part of the authorities and thus may create "disproportionate regulation of media freedom." 

And third, because of the vague language there is the possibility of "overly obtrusive application of media rules."

And Kroes and her staff haven't quite finished with their investigation of the details of the law. She added that she hopes that "Hungary will take all the necessary steps to make the new media law to conform to the laws of the European Union." She reminded her audience that the Hungarian prime minister had made it clear that the Hungarian government was ready to make changes if the European Commission, after finishing the legal investigation of the law, finds deficiencies in it as it now stands. Kroes expressed her hope that the Hungarian government's promises are "adequate assurances" that the changes will be made.

For the time being we don't know what Tibor Navracsics had to say to all that.

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Paul
Guest

“A closer look will be forthcoming.”
Do we know when this will be?

MM
Guest

You have forgotten to mention that the question of independence of the media authority was also mentioned as cause for worry by Kroes.

Öcsi
Guest

A transcript of the speech given by Neelie Kroes can be read here:
http://bbjonline.hu/index.php?col=1088&id=55575

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Öcsi, thank you for the link. Last night I worked from MTI’s report that wasn’t exactly accurate.

Julie
Guest

Orban keeps saying that the Hungarian media law is no different from the media laws in other EU countries. Has anyone made a comparison of the language used by the laws in, say, France or Sweden?

pusztaranger
Guest

The swedish ambassador to Hungary had a problem with the Hungarian government’s comparison of the Hungarian to the Swedish media law. HVG-article from last Friday.
http://hvg.hu/itthon/20110114_sved_nagykovet_osszehasonlitas

Odin's Lost Eye
Guest

This a test posting to see if I am being censored. If it works and gets through I will explain later

John G
Guest

@Odin’s lost eye: I thought I was the only one who had that problem. I presume that it must have been a technical problem since I don’t think I said anything that would trigger a sanction, either by our hostess or others.

Kevin Moore
Guest

Odin: don’t worry, even I didn’t get censored or banned here (despite the repeated warnings), left extremists like you surely won’t get hurt.

Member

I lost a post too.

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

I haven’t checked the site at all in the last four or five hours. So, I didn’t know that there was anything wrong.

Paul
Guest

Thanks for the link, Öcsi.
Although I think Neelie Kroes might have some trouble if she is looking for “the competent minister”!

Paul
Guest

Could someone give us the gist of the Swedish ambassador’s comments in pusztaranger’s link please?
As for lost posts – I have had several apparently posted but then disappear over the months. I don’t think this is anything sinister, just Typepad’s amazingly BAD software!

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Paul””Thanks for the link, Öcsi. Although I think Neelie Kroes might have some trouble if she is looking for “the competent minister”!”
I just heard an interview with somebody called Zoltán Kovács (not 100% sure) he is some bigwig in the government responsible for communication. He just had a long discussion with the head of the press section of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The upshot of the interview was that the Hungarian government doesn’t give an inch.

Paul
Guest

Completely off topic (sorry):
My in-laws’ latest rebuttal to my anti-Orbán comments (as they see them) is to report that “many Hungarian civil servants have got together to write an open letter to the Western press putting the ‘true’ case for Orbán’s Hungary. So as to counter the lies being spread in the West.”
Anyone else heard about this? I can find nothing on it anywhere.
Ta
(Apologies for reposting this – I hate it when other people do this! – but I feared it would get lost on its original thread.)

Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Paul: “Completely off topic (sorry): My in-laws’ latest rebuttal to my anti-Orbán comments (as they see them) is to report that “many Hungarian civil servants have got together to write an open letter to the Western press putting the ‘true’ case for Orbán’s Hungary.”
I haven’t but it may have escaped me.

John G
Guest

O I have been bombarded by that petition, but it’s not “civil servants” but a civic organization. The language may not be all that civil. It was to have been presented to representatives of various foreign press representatives in Hungary on the 12th. I believe it was actually delivered and now they are not very happy that it did not get the circulation they expected from the foreign media. I believe they reported somebody to some press organization or such as a result. Frankly, I can’t be bothered to follow it up.

Kevin Moore
Guest

Paul: not civil servants but an alliance of civil organizations.
Due to the extremely filtered sources the author informs herself from, it certainly escaped the attention of this blog, along with a petition started by leading intellectuals to boycott the companies that seek political help in Brussels for their economic ‘hardships’.
Here you go, two releases were published the 6th and 17th of January: http://www.civilosszefogas.org/
And the petition here: http://www.polgarinfo.hu/modules.php?name=ePetitions&op=more_info&ePetitionId=17

Odin's Lost Eye
Guest
Oh Mr Moore – a point of information for you. I am NOT and NEVER have been any form of socialist. I detest socialism in any shape ranging from Marxist through to your Beloved Leader his form of National Socialist. The last time I tried to explain what is going on in LIBE. I said that the EU’s linguists would be working from the Hungarian version of the law and would have by them the Official English Version. They have already picked out the ‘Howlers’ like Article 1.2.6 and Article 2.2.a. Now they are sifting through the details for the ‘Devil is in the Detail’. I know what they are doing because I long ago wrote part of the system they are using. It is a form of root and branch tree structure database which allows for all possible meanings of a word to be traced. Look up the Hungarian word “BUJA” and translate it into English. Then re-translate each word back into Hungarian. LIBE or rather its technicians will prepare a brief, complete with ‘Council’s Opinions’. LIBE will then throw the book at the Hungarian Republic. It will take time so do not hold your breath. If the Hungarian… Read more »
Eva S. Balogh
Guest

Kevin Moore: “Due to the extremely filtered sources the author informs herself from, it certainly escaped the attention of this blog, along with a petition started by leading intellectuals to boycott the companies that seek political help in Brussels for their economic ‘hardships’.”
Oh, that one! I certainly know about this. Leading intellectuals? Surely, you don’t think that Imre Pozsgay is a leading intellectual. Unless Lenin Institute and University of Marxism-Leninism qualifies someone to be called an intellectual. Laszlo Bogár,an economist of sorts, one of the leading anti-Semites in Hungary. Nice bunch!

Member

When I read who signed the petition, it required almost no further reading… It is certainly poorly written as John has already mentioned. My favourite part is the “We demand” and the “or else”.

Paul
Guest

Well, ‘Kevin’, much as I admire Fidesz HQ’s quick response to my question (even if, in so doing, they render your ‘disguise’ even flimsier than normal). I’m a bit disaapointed that they haven’t noticed that many readers of this blog can’t read Hungarian very well.
Your reply would have had much greater impact if someone at Fidesz HQ had spent a few minutes to give us an English version. After all, the petition must have been in English when presented to the international press.
I assume it was? Surely even Fidesz couldn’t cock things up that much?

Leo
Guest
The link Kevin Moore provided to the “Civil Co-operation Forum” is interesting and deserves more comment. The Forum (actually a Fidesz satellite in the communist tradition of ´mass movements´ supporting the party) perceives a coordinated (how?) attack on the Hungarian nation (that is: Fidesz) by some (rather an understatement) western media. They demand (nothing less) publication of their declaration in all the leading western newspapers (a long list) without (the usual?) falsifications. In the declaration Europe is warned that it should not believe the lies of a clique (clique!) of politicians and intellectuals who, after losing the democratic elections, try to mobilize Europe against Hungary (Fidesz once again). “It seems that those who now make most noise about democracy are those who were for 8 years the servants (servants!) of the government that brought Hungary to the brink of bankruptcy, while a new Hungarian oligarchy was born that concentrated unheard of economic power in its hands, and which is the party primarily interested in the success of the present campaign” (the writer clearly has a Marxist schooling). Not a word about the concrete objections against the law (i.e. that is dangerously vague and partisan), but instead a long litany against… Read more »
GDF
Guest

‘Kevin Moore’:”And the petition here: http://www.polgarinfo.hu/modules.php?name=ePetitions&op=more_info&ePetitionId=17
If this were not so tragic, it would be funny. One hand the petition condemns the multinational firms for contesting at the EU their overtaxation in Hungary, on the other hand it calls for their boycott.
I am curious how the Hungarian economy would be saved by taxing companies that sell nothing because they are being boycotted…

Odin's Lost Eye
Guest

GDF This form of logic is the same as that which allows a leader to support Hungary joining (by treaty) The EU and then flouting its rules and laws.
Those who advocate the boycott could be in for a nasty and may be very expensive surprise if the taxation affair goes to the European Court. It could be construed by the judges that these folk were aiding and abetting the wrong done and that were trying to ‘pervert the course of justice’ by punitive action against those who were reporting a possible wrong to the relevant authorities.

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