Panic rules at Hungarian bloggers

2011.7.4. – Hungary’s new media law unveils its true intentions on the very first day of its final commencement. Blogs ban comments, and pleasing reports in mass media burgeon. A great day for the Hungarian government.

When the last and final part of Hungary’s new media law has taken effect last Friday, the first charge was already on the table. Jenö Bodonovich, the ombudsman of the state media authority NMHH, filed a suit against Népszava, a small, left wing newspaper – in particular against its website nepszava.hu.

His accusations don’t even apply to one of Népszava’s critical articles. He reproaches on an obnoxious comment, left by a noname user on the website. Bodonovich, internally called the “censor”, has however not even revealed, which comment he is so furious about. Népszava now faces an absurd situation, with fines for insulting comments varying between one and fifty million Forint (5,500 and 275,000 US$).

Since July 1st, this is covered by Hungary’s new media legislation that was pushed forward by the right wing government since winter. In response to this sudden and unclear situation, all widespread Hungarian blogs closed their comment boxes within a few hours last Friday. “Panic rules”, sais an insider. “Nobody knows what’s punished and what isn’t.”

At the end of this remarkable day in Hungarian history, the state television M1 even went an extra mile. Hungary’s most watched evening news Este reported about an open air festival in Sopron – however not about the music, but about two teeny girls visiting the festival. They were the daughters of Hungary’s prime minister, Ráchel Orbán, and of the governing party’s EP delegate, Fanny Szájer. Is this the blue print for future news in Budapest?

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