Media authority: Independence

Hungary's new Media Authority, the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH), has been widely criticised by European lawmakers, media analysts and free-press advocates since its formation under the country's new media laws in 2010. Opponents have raised particular concerns over the independence of the Media Council, a five-member body within the Media Authority appointed for renewable nine-year terms. Critics say the appointment system gives the government de facto control over the Media Council, and has enabled Hungary's ruling Fidesz party to use its majority in Parliament to appoint party loyalists to all five Media Council seats. The Hungarian Government claims the Media Council is a democratically elected body in keeping with European principles, and that media authorities with "a much smaller degree of independence from [the] government are not uncommon in Europe."

Read more

Hungarian Government statement

The Austrian KommAustria authority has five members, including one president and one vice president; members are appointed by the head of state on the recommendation of the federal government for a term of six years; the Parliament's main committee has a right of consultation on the decision.


Expert assessment

This statement accurately describes the appointment process for members of the Austrian Communications Authority (KommAustria). KommAustria is composed of five full-time members: a chairperson, deputy chairperson and three members, all appointed by the Bundespraesident or the head of state following recommendations from the federal government. Term of office is six years, renewable. Appointments are preceded by a public invitation to apply for the position, in accordance with procedures for civil servant appointments under the Public Tender Act of 1989. It should also be noted that KommAustria is not the only media authority in Austria; it shares also a number of regulatory responsibilities with the Austrian Regulatory Authority for Broadcasting and Telecommunications (RTR-GmbH) and the Telekom Control Commission (TKK). The highest decision-making authority for audiovisual communications in Austria is the Federal Communications Committee (BKS), a judicial body which reviews KommAustria's decisions, monitors compliance with media laws, issues decisions and handles complaints.


Katharine Sarikakis University of Vienna

Content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative License.
©2011 Center for Media and Communication Studies (CMCS). Some rights reserved.