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Hungarian media laws versus European freedom of expression standards: what is at stake?

October 4, 2012
12:00PM - 01:30PM

Silverman 49
3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, 19104

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Categories: Seminar

Thursday, October 4th, 2012 

 12:00- 1:30 PM
Silverman 49

3501 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104

Brown Bag Lunch

In 2010, Hungarian lawmakers stirred international controversy by passing new media laws that critics say threaten media freedom and violate democratic principles and norms. The legislation was fast-tracked through the Hungarian Parliament amid mounting protests from domestic and international free-press groups, journalists and European lawmakers. Numerous legal analyses have shown that the laws are inconsistent with European media-regulation practices and standards, and violate the fundamental freedom of expression rights established by various European treaties, including the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The European Parliament, the European Commission, the Council of Europe and the OSCE continue to pressure Hungarian officials to bring the legislation in line with European standards. But several rounds of amendments have brought only minor changes, leaving the most problematic aspects of the legislation intact.

The debate over the Hungarian media legislation goes beyond immediate concerns over the possible erosion of media freedom in Hungary: the laws pose a clear challenge to the established European framework for the protection of democratic principles, values and rights. Hungary’s case therefore raises serious concerns over whether, and how, these fundamental rights can be safeguarded and maintained on both the domestic and pan-European levels.


Amy Brouillette is a research fellow at the Center for Media and Communication Studies (CMCS) at the Central European University in Budapest. She was the lead researcher of a recently published study, “Hungarian Media Laws in Europe: An Assessment of the Consistency of Hungary’s Media Laws with European Practices and Norms,” which examined in the Hungarian legislation in a comparative context across 20 European and EU-member countries. She has worked as both an on-staff and freelance journalist for more than ten years, reporting for daily, weekly and online U.S.-based publications. Her articles and photography have appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, The Los Angeles Times and The Denver Post. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Colorado, Boulder (2007), and a master’s degree in Central European history from CEU (2009). She is currently a visiting scholar at the Center for Global Communication Studies (CGCS).

Joan Barata is a Professor of Communication Law and Vice Dean of International Relations at Blanquerna Communication School (Universitat Ramon Llull, Barcelona). He was a Professor at the University of Barcelona (2001-2005), the Open University of Catalonia (since 1997) and the Universitat PompeuFabra (2010-2011), as well as visiting scholar at the University of Bologna (Italy) (2003) and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law (New York) (2003-2004). His writings and research interests include topics such as freedom of expression, media regulation, public service broadcasting and political and legal media transitions. He has provided assistance to several institutions and organizations regarding these issues in countries such as Thailand, Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, Jordan, Albania, Hungary, Dominican Republic, Colombia and the United States. In particular, his recent writings on Tunisia have been commissioned by Internews. He has been Head of President’s Cabinet (2005-2009) and Secretary General of the Catalonia Audiovisual Council (2009-2011). He has also provided assistance to the OSCE (2004) and the Council of Europe (2012).