Digital Agenda vice president Neelie Kroes attacked Hungary’s media laws yesterday, claiming they breach human rights and disrupt the country’s economy by undermining the confidence of investors.
The commissioner told the European Parliament’s civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee Hungarian law presents a threat to press freedom at the very time when the media should be helping to ease growing racial tensions through balanced reporting. She called on the government to ratify changes to the law with EC officials, and be quick about implementing those amendments.
Hungary’s Constitutional Court ruled in December that current laws limit the freedom of the written press, but changes implemented to-date are “not yet enough,” according to Kroes.
“Ultimately, media pluralism and freedom depend on the right atmosphere and political culture,” she told the committee.
A balanced media is increasingly necessary in Hungary, where “discrimination against minorities is rife, and getting worse,” Kroes noted. That bias appears to extend to a spectrum allocation in Budapest, when a minority-focused talk radio station appeared to be overlooked in favor of music-based rivals.
“To be blunt: if you set technical conditions that work against political talk radio, do not be surprised if you have less political discussion on the radio,” Kroes remarked.