Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Hungarian restriction of the Media and the role of EU.

During the Hungarian EU Presidency, the news that come out of the country are not the most flattering. There are talks about media censorship in an EU country.The very word "media censorship" is a much feared and detested in Europe, but perhaps we do not grasp what is really happening in the country just yet.

"Hungary will change its much-criticized media law if the European Union wants," Prime Minister Viktor Orban said today.However, Mr Orban delivered a vigorous defense of the legislation, arguing that there was nothing in it that was not in other EU countries' laws.

Mr Orban has been roundly criticized by EU states such as France, Britain and Germany because of concerns about restrictions on media freedom, saying it was long overdue and democratic.
But he acknowledged the criticism leveled at his government and said that if the European Commission, which is studying the text, sought alterations, they would be made.

"We are part of the EU, there are rules of the game," Mr Orban told foreign reporters invited to Hungary as the country assumes the rotating presidency of the EU for the next six months. "Any procedure that the EU starts and initiates, Hungary will accept it. If we are not right, and it becomes a fact, we will agree and we will correct it," he said.

Hungary says the media law had to be changed because the old legislation was ineffective, with increasingly virulent tabloid TV channels and newspapers acting with impunity.

Andras Koltay, a professor of media freedom who helped draft the law, used the examples of a newspaper that ran front page pictures of a Hungarian footballer shortly before he died during a game, and a TV reality show that questioned a girl about her sex life until she broke down. "They were violations of human dignity, and that is what this new law aims to protect," he said. (From the Irish Times paper, 06.01.2011)

It is baffling what was the EU negotiating with the country's leadership before Hungary joined the block. Why any agreement to join the block, does not come with a commitment to always uphold its values? Hungary though declared that it will co-operate with EU if those laws are found to be breaking EU laws, as the above article clearly states. So why all this outrage?

The situation is in no way any better in other EU states. The Greek media for example, especially the television channels, are totally unregulated. Each of them can broadcast any rubbish reality program and numerous silly gossip talk shows. So is media regulation always a bad thing and where do we draw the line on our media freedom?

Why can't there be some constructive restrictions,  in an effort to provide quality programs that will educate and inform the public? We allow this mass "moronization" of the public with low quality American style reality shows and gossip/lifestyle programs. What is more important to have "freedom" of the media or keep a level of decency and quality?

Freedom of speech of the media, that is to report or criticize any person or development from the country's political or social life, has nothing to do with the quality of the programs that are being broadcasted. Or about the quality of the news and how they are being presented.

The EU does not criticize Italy and the fact that one man owns the majority of the media there. Hungary and other new states though, must be stigmatized and be told what to do, while things are not as rosy in the old members of EU. That is not the way to built a union.

We need quality media platforms that have a constructive impact in our lives, not fill our heads with rubbish and focusing our attention to things that are not important, rather helping us focus on things that are.Some standards must not be lowered, though media censorship is a sensitive issue that must be handled with a great caution. 

Perhaps Hungary is being stigmatized or "framed" for being the only nation in EU and Europe to dare to do such a thing. Oppose the will of the European elite that want totally unregulated media so they can brainwash the public.

They try to make us all in Europe compulsive buyers, supporting so the capitalist system. Our media are getting more and more dominated with reality shows and programs, that do not inform or offer anything constructive, helping any critical thinking.

It might just be that the cultured Hungarians felt disgusted by what their media were promoting to their population and wanted to put some control over broadcasting, so they won't become like Britain that is full of cheap realities.

Speaking about Britain and other countries, do you think that if a young pro-European aspiring journalist like myself, tried to write anything that was not compatible with the country's Euro-skeptic tradition, would any newspaper or media hired him or publish his work? It is doubtful.

In other words if you think about it, we do not have freedom of speech in our countries, when it challenges the establishment. Hungary is not the only country that should be scrutinized by the EU, but it is the only one who dared to control the quality of what is being broadcasted. And for that it is being grilled by the European officials.


jurimaier said...

Sorry, but the debate is not about protecting human dignity or not. There can be no democracy, where a body that may effectively exercise control of the press is mainly controlled by members of the governing party. Indeed, there is a similar situation in Italy, but as an effect of business activity, not of legislation.

Chris Eblana said...

Thank you jurimaier for the opinion and he insight. If you are from Hungary and what you say is correct, and this body that will be set up is indeed controlled by the ruling party and only, then indeed there is a problem in Hungary.. But why the EU did not put in place legislation to prevent such moves in the first place?

Chris Eblana said...

To elaborate more, if what you say is true and the rulings are because of one single political party of the Hungarian parliament, then I am with you. But if it is the will of the current Hungarian parliament and all the parties, then I will remain a sceptic.
In the case you are right, I wonder why it must be that the rules of EU membership are kept before the entry in EU or the eurozone? Were the laws of Hungary on this matter good enough to allow them entry in the block, but after joining that's it? No need to follow the rules anymore? And not just Hungary but lets say Greece and the eurozone, France and the expulsion of the Roma, and Britain and the constant Thatcherisms while before they entered the EEC they were pushing for a YES vote! Why can't EU have laws to make sure that member states that enter, comply with the laws always?? But then again would our leaders comply?

Peti888 said...

I am very pleased that there are people that can still see clearly in such a hostile environment to Hungary. This whole hysteria is the work of leftist Hungarian demagogue circles that cannot bear that they lost the elections.
Western media is attacking us mainly because our government passed a law during the autumn that taxed slightly multinational companies and these circles are lobbying now in the west. The second reason of their hostility is that they cannot believe that countries that had belonged to the Soviet bloc can have strong democracies and they look down on us(this has a racist tone)
In 2006, a videotape was revealed about the former socialist president(Gyurcsány) in which he admitted lying to the people. There were protests in Budapest and the police behaved very brutally: human rights were violated. Western media was almost SILENT. if you would like some further hindsight, read this: it is a bit subjective, but mainly contains the truth. and here is the translation of the controversial law:
western media was already attacking it before it was passed, before they knew what it contained
I hope I could give you some hindsight
Greetings from Hungary

Chris Eblana said...

Dear Peti888 thank you for dropping by and for commenting. i agree with you. the western media portray our countries (Hungary + Greece included) not always with the right or fair or accurate you said they look down on us. they forget the culture and heritage of Hungary, they want to portray you as a corrupt ex-Soviet country that needs to be told what to do and how to behave.They do that to Greece as well and Ireland! But some of us as you see, simply do not buy it..!! Many greetings to Hungary and thanx again for giving an insight from "the inside" of the situation!!