Media laws' scope: regulating print and online press

Hungary's new media laws introduced a single legislative framework for all media, inclusive of the print and online press. Under the new system, all media are bound to a set of common content regulations that include requirements to "respect the constitutional order of Hungary" and prohibiting content that violates "public morals."1 EU lawmakers and free-press advocates claim that adopting a single regulatory framework for all media sectors defies free-press principles and regulatory practices in Europe. Opponents say these media should be self-regulated by an independent press council and the courts, separately from broadcasting, in keeping with European regulatory practices. Hungarian officials say the new laws were adopted in compliance with the EU Audiovisual Media Services Directive and that the laws delineate different obligations for different media sectors...

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Hungarian Government statement

As of 1 October 2010, Austria's KommAustria is responsible for the legal monitoring of the ORF and the supervision of online media content by commercial outlets


Expert assessment

It is true that the Austrian Communications Authority (KommAustria) is currently responsible for supervising Austria's public broadcaster as well as audiovisual media services and audiovisual commercial communications on the Internet.43 However, KommAustria does not regulate the print or online press: its remit over online media extends to audiovisual on-demand (Internet TV and radio), advertising, and online content supplied by ORF. The print and online press are regulated under a separate Press Law, as well as by provisions in the civil, constitutional and penal laws, and monitored by various federal ministries, the courts, and more recently, the self-regulatory Austrian Press Council. 44 For instance, all media and websites are bound by provisions in the civil and penal codes, which prohibits certain content—for instance, the dissemination of Nazi materials and symbols—although these areas are governed by the criminal authorities, the Interior Minister, and the courts, and not specifically by KommAustria.45 Hence, the use of the Austrian example does not adequately address the criticism to which the Hungarian Government is responding, as in Austria, print and online press (other than that supplied by ORF) are regulated separately from audiovisual services.


Katharine Sarikakis, Phd, Department of Communications, University of Vienna

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