Thousands of people protested in Budapest outside Parliament against Hungary's new media law last Friday (01/14/2011). The legislation passed in December 2010 has stirred an international political and media storm. Many local and some foreign publications have protested against the new law by blank front pages or displaying special messages expressing their protest. Civilans, media experts, journalists both in and outside Hungary, as well as international organizations (among others the EU the OSCE, and the International Press Institute) fear that the new regulations will inhibit freedom of speech in the country. The main problems with the law are that it expands the state's power to monitor and heavily penalizes news outlets and that it may be used against critical views of Prime Minister Viktor Orban's center-right government. The composition of the recently formed Media Council is another concern, because it is led exclusively by members supported by the governing party. «The only country that interferes with the operation of the press to such extent is Belarus», quoted a Hungarian news site, portfolio.hu (http://portfolio.hu/en/cikkek.tdp?k=2&i=21578) , the Representative on Freedom of the Media at the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Dunja Mijatovic.
A second protest is scheduled to take place on the 27th of January.
Photographs: © Bela Krumpli
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