Finally, but most importantly: empowering the President (of the Media Council) to take decisions personally allocates even more power to the already too strong presidential position. (She is president of the Media and Telecommunication Authority and of the Media Council, responsible for appointing the head of the Public Service Media and Property Fund, and the Media Commissioner). The change further concentrates the power in the hands of one person – a person who is directly and solely appointed by the Prime Minister for nine years.The reply of the Media Council was published by the Hungarian News Agency (MTI) which now operates as the single concentrated newsroom for public service television in Hungary. The publication said that the Media Council follows the laws in all cases and decides as a body in all cases. It held that this resolution did not rewrite the media law, it did not give new rights or competences to the President of the Council, and that the „measurement made in the interest of the faster decision-making does not affect the jurisdiction of the Media Council”. It just makes the procedure easier and faster – it said, – because the media law provides very short deadlines (20 days in this case) therefore, in order to keep the deadline, speeding up the procedure and amending the Code of Procedure was necessary.If you imagine that Cameron won't be reading this and thinking it a useful template, you've got a damn site more trust in venal politicos than I have.
However, since the Council has wide powers of investigation, even procedural issues can decide the outcome of a case and affect constitutional rights. Among others, procedural rights of the Council – and since this decision, of an appointed Coordinator – are: extending the procedure to another illegal action (Section 149. Act on Media and Mass Communication); officially cite a person and order that he or she is apprehended by the police (Section 48. Act on Administrative Procedures); allow another administrative body to learn about documents treated confidentially (Section 153. Act on Media and Mass Communication); examine, copy or excerpt any document or tool relating to media services, publication or distribution – even if it contains secrets protected by law (Section 155 Act on Media and Mass Communication); oblige the client, other participants of the procedure, their commissioners, employees, or anyone else who has any legal relationship to the client or other participant of the procedure – in exceptional cases any other person or organisation – to provide data orally or in writing, in a format defined by the authority (or the Coordinator) that is suitable for comparison, or any other information (Section 155 Act on Media and Mass Communication); and oblige the client to make a declaration or provide data, under threat of a fine (up to EUR 92 000 or HUF 25 million for organisations, and EUR 3700 or HUF 1 million for natural persons).
Friday, 8 July 2011
Would you trust Cameron to regulate the press?
Well would you? Riding on the wave of public loathing for scum journos, down there at the bottom of our 'human being' scales along with estate agents and, er, politicians, it must seem a very attractive idea for Cameron to muzzle the media's ability to dig and reveal political dirt. And don't think this isn't happening in Europe already. Fidesz, the Hungarian populist party with a majority of over two-thirds in Parliament, and therefore with the power to alter the constitution, has already enacted a savage media law under which a five-member Media Council (all five are Fidesz party members) has sweeping power to determine mergers and acquisitions, investigate journalists and even bloggers as a judicial authority, seize evidence and require absolute disclosure of sources and documents. I can't even begin to describe how far-reaching the powers are; this extract takes a cross-section;