Sunday, March 06, 2011

Hungary Modifies Media Restrictions Enough for Ropi to Start Blogging Again

Ropi left a comment on an old post today to announce he was blogging again.  I went to his old site, but it was still inactive.  So I checked the link to his name and found his new blog:

Half a Loaf is Better than None

Here's the opening of the first post today:

In December, some people were disappointed, because I stopped blogging and even more was relieved that I stopped online littering. However I am back. This afternoon during my Maths break I checked our media law for curiousity and last week it was modified in a way that blogs and videoblogs are not under the control of the authorities. So I am here.
Ropi started blogging as a high school student in Budapest, going to a school where English was the medium in many classes.  He's now a first year University student studying economics.   He has a bent for Roman History.  And his blog gives people outside of Hungary an interesting view of the day-to-day life of one student in Budapest.  Just the fact he's blogging in English tells us something about the world.  How many US born high school students whose parents' native languages are both English, could blog about a wide range of topics in a foreign language?

Ropi didn't cite the exact clarifications in the law.  I was able to find an undated letter from the Minister of Public Administration and Justice, Dr. Tibor Navracsics, in response to a January 21, 2011 letter from Neelie Kroes, the Vice President of the European Commission, which cites a 2007 Constitutional Court decision.

Here's a section of that letter that says that non-economic activities and specifically videoblogs are exempt from the law:

In line with paragraph (21) of the preamble of the AVMS Directive, the scope of the MC or MA does not apply to private communications. (“For the purposes of this Directive, the definition of an audiovisual media service should cover only audiovisual media services, whether television broadcasting or on-demand, which are mass media, that is, which are intended for reception by, and which could have a clear impact on, a significant proportion of the general public. Its scope (…) should not cover activities which are primarily non-economic and which are not in competition with television broadcasting, such as private websites and services consisting of the provision or distribution of audiovisual content generated by private users for the purposes of sharing and exchange within communities of interest.”) Accordingly, the obligation of balanced coverage in case of “audiovisual blogs” that cannot be qualified as services of economic nature is not a requirement.  [Bolded emphasis added]

Another section of the letter raises an interesting issue that could be tempting to some in the US.  Sounds a little like the fairness doctrine the FCC used to have. 
In the Decision mentioned above, the Constitutional Court emphasized the importance of balanced coverage in Hungarian law as follows: “Preventing the development of information monopolies is a constitutional objective. By the dynamic development of broadcasting technologies, the primary threat posed by the information monopolies is the emergence of »opinion monopolies«, and therefore the Constitutional Court acknowledges the requirement of ensuring the pluralism of opinions as a legitimate objective. This is the objective for which the editing freedom of the broadcaster is restricted by the requirement of balanced information. As generally accepted, the opinion forming force of radio and television broadcasts and the convincing influence of motion pictures, voices and live coverages is the multiple of the thinking-inductive force of other services in the information society. Therefore, it is justified in the case of the electronic media to provide for special regulations on multi-sided information, in order to allow the members of the political community to develop their views after getting familiarised with the relevant opinions about the issues of public interest.”
Welcome back to the blogosphere Ropi.  We missed you.  I'll update the link in my "Blogs of Friends and/or Acquaintances" section in the right hand column.

1 comment:

  1. Well, in January I lost track of the things, because I concentrated on my exams.


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