Decisions on ‘balanced’ reporting: the Media Council upholds a majority of far-right Jobbik party’s complaints

According to information posted on its website, the Media Council has considered 27 complaints of unbalanced reporting to date, more than half of which were brought by Hungary’s far-right Jobbik party. The Media Council has upheld 13 of Jobbik’s 16 complaints against broadcasters for not including the party’s perspectives or comments in their coverage of certain events. The Media Council has dismissed all complaints of unbalanced coverage brought by other groups or individuals, including all four complaints brought against broadcasters for alleged anti-Roma coverage, and complaints brought against Hungary’s public broadcaster for airbrushing out the face of a Constitutional Court judge in a newscast.

The “balanced” reporting provision is one of the most controversial features of Hungary’s 2010 media laws. The obligation, which was originally required for all media—including print and online press—was narrowed to broadcasters (both public and private) following negotiations with the European Commission in March 2011. Hungarian lawmakers will revise this provision again in accordance with the most recent round of negotiations with the Council of Europe. However, media expert Gábor Polyák says that the amended version will likely have little impact on its implementation.

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