Germany, Hungary 'discuss media law change': Berlin

23rd December 2010, Comments 0 comments

The German foreign minister called his Hungarian counterpart Thursday to discuss a possible change to a disputed media law that critics fear could restrict press freedom in Hungary, Berlin said.

"Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle telephoned Hungarian counterpart Janos Martonyi this morning. In a friendly atmosphere, they discussed possibilities of a change to the Hungarian media law," the German statement said.

Under the legislation, passed by Hungary's parliament Tuesday, a new authority will have the right to regulate media content and impose fines when rules are not respected.

The authority will prescribe restrictions and levy fines, not only for content considered offensive but also for material that "is not politically balanced".

The passing of the law triggered criticism from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the European Parliament, especially as Budapest takes over the rotating presidency of the EU next month.

Deputy German government spokesman Christoph Steegmans said Wednesday: "As a country that is about to take the presidency of the EU, Hungary will have a particular responsibility for the image of the whole union in the world."

He added that Berlin would "watch with close attention" how the law is applied.

© 2010 AFP

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