Hungarian president Pal Schmitt has been urged by the opposition and media representatives to veto the media bill. Pressure to block the bill have also come from high-ranking EU officials and government representatives of other EU member states.
The new law places television and radio stations as well as virtually all other means of publication (not only newspapers and magazines but also internet portals and blogs) under the control of the new media council – an institution compromising only members of the governing Fidesz-party. The law was criticised nationally and internationally as it stipulates that the media council can fine editors if they publish ‘unbalanced’ articles or those violating ‘human dignity’ (fines can be as high as €89.700/ $118.000).
Even though the opposition sees the law as clearly unconstitutional they argued that any constitutional complaint would not prevent it from entering into force on January 1, 2011. Therefore, president Schmitt would have to refuse to sign the law and send it back to parliament for reconsideration. There, however, Fidesz (of which Mr Schmitt is also a member) holds a 2/3-majority, making an override very likely.
The media bill had received special attention by European leaders not only due to its context but also because Hungary takes over the rotating EU presidency in the beginning of 2011.