Findings: Media Authority's centralised structure and regulatory scope
In response to the criticism of the Media Authority's centralised structure and regulatory scope, the Hungarian Government states that Hungary's Media Authority shares similarities with other convergent regulatory bodies in Finland (FICORA), Italy (AGCOM) and the UK (Ofcom). According to the expert evaluations, the single common point between the three regulatory bodies cited and Hungary's Media Authority is that each are formally "convergent" regulators with varying levels of competencies over the media, telecommunications and postal sectors. Yet the expert assessments indicate that the scope of powers afforded to Hungary's Media Authority exceeds those in the three examples cited in the following areas:
Regulatory scope: Hungary's Media Authority has monitoring and sanctioning powers over all media—including private and public broadcasting, and the print and online press. By comparison, none of three convergent regulatory bodies have content-related authority over traditional print or online press. According to the expert assessments:
• Finland's FICORA regulates commercial broadcasting, but has no authority over public media or print and online press.
• Italy's AGCOM regulates private and commercial broadcasting; it manages compulsory registration for traditional print and online press but has no content-related regulatory (or sanctioning) authority over these media.
• UK's Ofcom regulates commercial broadcast media and their online content but has limited authority over the BBC (or its websites) and does not regulate print or online press.
Regulatory tasks: Hungary's Media Authority is responsible for a range of regulatory duties—from tendering, licensing and spectrum allocation to monitoring compliance with and issuing sanctioning for breaches to Hungary's media laws. Based on the expert assessments, the specific structure of Hungary's Media Authority, in which all of these tasks are carried out by a single body, appears to be unique among the three examples cited.
• Finland's FICORA only has powers to grant (and revoke) short-term broadcasting licenses; the power to grant (and revoke) broadcasting licenses is with the Ministry of Transport and Communications. FICORA's oversight deals primarily with technical and economic aspects of media regulation and it has limited decision-making and sanctioning powers beyond these areas.
• Italy's AGCOM is not responsible for tendering, licensing, and spectrum allocation; the AGCOM Board is responsible for monitoring compliance (among broadcasters) with media laws and for issuing sanctions.
• UK's Ofcom is responsible for tendering, licensing, and spectrum allocation, however these tasks are handled by separate unit within Ofcom; Ofcom's Content Board handles complaints, monitors compliance with the media laws, and issues sanctions.
Regulatory authority's position in the country's media regulation system: Hungary's Media Authority is the sole regulatory authority for the media in Hungary. By comparison, the convergent regulators cited share regulatory responsibilities with a number of other state and/or self-regulatory bodies. According to the expert assessments:
Finland's Ficora shares regulatory responsibilities with the Ministry of Transport and Communications; media in Finland area also supervised by a number of self-regulatory bodies, including the Council for Mass Media and the Council of Ethics in Advertising.
• Italy's AGCOM shares regulatory responsibilities with the Department of Communications, the Parliamentary Commission for Public Service Broadcasting, the Antitrust Authority, the Privacy Authority, the Professional Order of Journalists, and the courts.
• UK's Ofcom has pursued a so-called "light-touch" policy, opting for co-regulatory schemes involving different bodies, including with the Authority for Television On-Demand (ATVOD), which oversees on-demand TV, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), which monitors advertising and marketing regulations for all media in the UK, and the Secretary of State for Sport, Culture and Media, as well as the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.
Based on the above criteria, Hungary's Media Authority has the broadest regulatory scope of the three convergent regulatory bodies cited. As the expert assessments indicate, Hungary's Media Authority is the only convergent regulatory body among these examples that is responsible for tendering, licensing and spectrum management and also has regulatory and sanctioning powers over all media sectors.