Hungarian Government statement

There is a convergent authority showing similarities with its Hungarian counterparty in Finland (Ficora).32

country experts

Kari Karppinen (Phd) is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Social Research of the University of Helsinki. He defended his doctoral thesis on the concept of media pluralism in 2010 and he currently works in the areas of media and democracy and media policy.
Hannu Nieminen (PhD) is a professor of Media and Communication Policy in the Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki.


Expert assessment

The Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority (FICORA) is a convergent authority, as this statement correctly notes, but without specifying any provisions or powers to compare beyond this, the "similarities" between FICORA and its Hungarian counterpart cannot be substantiated. Convergent media authorities in Europe and elsewhere vary significantly in terms of their regulatory scope, powers and overall regulatory approach. FICORA's responsibilities extend to commercial TV and radio broadcasting (on the basis of the Act on Radio and Television Operations),33 telecommunications (Communications Market Act),34 postal services, privacy protection, data security, and some other areas of information society services specified in the Act on Communications Administration.35 FICORA does not regulate print, which are self-regulated by professional codes adopted by the Council for Mass Media,36 or public service media, which are governed by separate administrative provisions detailed in the Act on the Finnish Broadcasting Company.

FICORA is a supervisory and administrative agency under the Ministry of Transport and Communications. 37 Its oversight deals primarily with technical and economic aspects of media regulation and has limited decision-making and sanctioning powers beyond these areas. It can grant (and revoke) short-term broadcasting licenses, but the real power to grant (and revoke) licenses lies with the Ministry.38 FICORA is organised into seven areas and additional units that function directly under a director general. These areas are: Communications Markets and Services; Networks and Security; Radio Frequencies and Television Fees; Development and Support; Information Technology; and Communications. FICORA's specific authority and responsibilities are delineated in a number of sectoral laws.39 The main legal act related to FICORA's regulatory authority is the Act on Communications Administration, which details FICORA's role in supervising regulations for commercial TV and radio broadcasting. Its duties and powers related to other media and telecommunications sectors are further detailed in a number of legal acts, including the Communications Market Act, the Radio Act, the Act on Postal Services, the Act on State Television and Radio Fund, the Act on the Protection of Privacy and Data Security in Telecommunications, the Act on Electronic Signatures, and the Domain Name Act. These powers relate to telecommunications operations, and administrative duties in the areas of postal services, privacy protection, data security, and some other areas specified in the Act on Television and Radio Operations.

FICORA can impose sanctions on commercial broadcasters for violations to specific technical and content-related provisions of the laws listed above, including the content regulations specified in Chapters 3 and 4 of the Act on Television and Radio Operations.40 These chapters include regulations on the proportion of European works and programs by independent producers, programmes that may be detrimental to the development of minors, the use of exclusive rights, and restrictions on advertising and sponsoring. Sanctions include a reminder, a conditional fine, or if a broadcaster fails to rectify its actions in a set period, a penalty fine determined by a separate court, and finally, the revocation of a broadcasting license (although these sanctioning powers are limited to the short-term licenses issued by FICORA). It has no general responsibility to handle complaints from the public, but as part of its duty to monitor the provisions of Act on Television and Radio Operations, FICORA receives requests for action from individual citizens concerning programmes that may cause detriment to the development of children, and concerning advertisements, sponsoring and product placement.

As noted, FICORA's supervisory role is related mostly to technical areas of media regulation. A number of other regulatory bodies supervise various media sectors, including: the Ministry of Transport and Communications, which works in cooperation with FICORA and other consumer authorities wherever necessary. The supervision of some provisions in the Act on Television and Radio Operations has also been entrusted to the Consumer Ombudsman. In addition, the Council for Mass Media is a separate self-regulating committee that interprets and upholds professional ethics and handles complaints from members of the public on breaches of journalism ethics,41 and the Council of Ethics in Advertising issues statements and handles complaints regarding ethically acceptable advertising.42

32 See "Criticism 10," in "Criticisms and answers formulated on the subject of the proposed media act examined in a European context," December 20, 2010.
33 Act on Television and Radio Operations (744/1998; amendments up to 1068/2007 included). Unofficial translation, Ministry of Transport and Communications of Finland, available at:
34 Communications Market Act (393/2003; amendments up to 363/2011 included), unofficial translation, Ministry of Transport and Communications of Finland, available at:
35 Act on Communications Administration (625/2001; amendments up to 397/2003 included), unofficial translation, Ministry of Transport and Communications of Finland, available at:
36 See the Council for Mass Media, at:
37 Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority (FICORA), available at:
38 Ministry of Transport and Communications, available at:
39 A summary of FICORA's organizational structure available at:
40 See Chapters 3 and 4 in the Act on Television and Radio Operations, available at:
41 The Council for Mass Media, available at:
42 The Council of Ethics in Advertising, available at: