Media Council to initiate proceedings against Való Világ 7’s media service provider subject to Romanian jurisdiction

Published: 20 February 2015


Due to the inappropriate age rating of a December episode of Való Világ 7 (Real World 7), a reality show airing on RTL 2, the Media Council is initiating administrative proceedings against Cable Channels SA, the show’s media service provider subject to Romanian jurisdiction. To protect minors, the Authority publishes a quantitative analysis of certain types of content of the extremely popular show, potentially harmful to children, every week on its website. In addition, the Addition also decided on a tender for immediate filming support and on matters concerning regional radio stations.

Való Világ 7’s age rating is too lenient

At its most recent meeting, the Media Council of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMIA) decided to initiate administrative proceedings due to a rerun of a December episode of Való Világ 7 as, with regard to the intense sexuality, participants depicted as erotic accessories and superficial relationship patterns, the channel did not give the episode the “not recommended for ages under 16” rating, but an AP rating meaning “only recommended for ages under 12 with parental consent or adult supervision”, and aired it during the noon hours instead of the permitted 9pm to 5am time slot.

The show airs in Hungary on RTL 2 operated by Cable Channels SA, a company residing in Romania. However, very strict conditions must be met in order for the Hungarian authority to take action against a media service provider subject to foreign jurisdiction: the service provider must be residing in an EU Member State, the media service must be intended for use in the territory of Hungary and the contested show must manifestly and gravely infringe laws and regulations on age rating, the prohibition of incitement to hatred or the prohibition of certain pornographic or violent content particularly harmful to minors.

The NMIA constantly monitors the application of child protection provisions, including in the case of the reality show Való Világ 7, on which it publishes information every week. The administrative inspection revealed that the service provider can be assumed to have gravely infringed the rules on age rating in its show that aired on December 17. In such case, the Media Council may take action against a media service provider subject to foreign jurisdiction; the applicable Hungarian legislation is taken word for word from the Audiovisual Media Services Directive. In accordance with its decision taken during this week’s meeting, the Media Council initiates administrative proceedings of which it notifies the Romanian media service provider. If an infringement is established, and two further similar cases are found in addition to this first case, on the third occasion, Hungary, at the initiative of the Media Council, will start a consultation with the Member State concerned, with the involvement of the European Commission. At the same time, it notifies the channel and the Commission that if no agreement is reached and repeated infringement is registered, it will require the media service provider to publish a communication on the infringement on the show or to suspend its service for a specified period.

If the Media Council indeed has to adopt a decision containing legal sanction, the media service provider may submit a request for review and the European Commission may oblige the Media Council to withdraw its decision. So far, the Media Council had to take action against a media service provider residing abroad only once when it notified the British media authority, Ofcom, that Viasat, a service provider under its jurisdiction, applied too lenient age rating for the show Éden Hotel (Hotel Eden); however, the British authority concluded in its report that the contested show did not pose a serious risk to minors.

Decisions concerning a film tender and regional radio stations

The Media Council has approved this year’s HUF 20 million allocation for the Escher Károly tender, which can be used to support the immediate on-site filming of unforeseeable, particularly important historic, cultural or socio-political events with Hungarian relevance in order to make documentaries or educational films with cultural value from the raw footage. Applications can be submitted continuously from the publication of the tender until the allocation is used up and will be evaluated by the body on a weekly basis, as in the previous years. A maximum of HUF 2 million in support can be obtained per applicant. Last year, the Media Council supported filming of 15 different events through this tender, announced as part of the Hungarian Media Patronage programme.

The Media Council has decided to conclude a temporary administrative contract with the current users of three regional frequencies in Budapest: with Tilos Kulturális Alapítvány, operating Tilos Rádió on 90.3 MHz, MŰSOR-HANG Műsorszolgáltató Zrt., operating Gazdasági Rádió on 105.8 MHz, and Aeriel Rádió Műsorszóró Kft., operating Klasszik Rádió on 92.1 MHz, in view of their previous contracts having been expired and new tenders for the use the aforementioned frequencies still being ongoing.

In the tender for the use of regional radio frequency 100.5 MHz in Nyíregyháza, the Media Council decided to require the only applicant, EURÓPA RÁDIÓ Nonprofit Közhasznú Kft., currently using said frequency, to rectify the deficiencies found in its application. The Media Council imposed a HUF 80,000 fine on the media service provider of the Mária Rádió Mór 92.9 MHz community radio as administrative investigations revealed that it has broadcast less spoken content and more repeats than contractually agreed, and failed to meet the legal requirement of 50 per cent for the weekly proportion of Hungarian music.

Section 176 of Act CLXXXV of 2010 on media services and mass media (Media Act):
Section 176(1) When the linear audiovisual media service of a media service provider residing in another Member State is intended for use in the territory of Hungary, the Media Council shall have the right to apply the legal consequences as defined in Section 187(3)(c)–(d) with regard to the media service provided exclusively in the territory of Hungary, under its resolution for the period of the infringement or up to 180 days at the most when the following conditions are met:
(a) the media service manifestly and gravely infringes Section 17(1), 19(1) or (4) of the Act on the freedom of the press and the fundamental rules for media content or Section 9 or 10(1)-(3) of the Media Act;
(b) the media service infringed the provisions set forth under point (a) on at least two occasions within the twelve months prior to the resolution to be issued by the Media Council under this Paragraph on the limitation of broadcast;
(c) Hungary at the initiative of the Media Council notified the particular media service provider and the European Community of the instances of infringement as defined in point (a) and the measures the Media Council intends to take in case of repeated infringement; and
(d) no agreement is made between Hungary and the Member State in which the media service provider is resident — on the basis of the consultations made with the European Commission within fifteen days from the notification defined in item (c) and the infringement described in item (a) still exists or is committed repeatedly.
(2) The Media Council shall send the decision defined under Paragraph (1) to the European Commission concurrently with the announcement thereof.
(3) When the European Commission obliges the Media Council to withdraw the decision passed under Paragraph (1) in a decision passed within two months of the notification defined under Paragraph (2), it shall proceed as provided for in the decision of the European Commission.

Article 3 of Directive (EU) No. 2010/13 of the European Parliament and of the Council on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the provision of audiovisual media services (Audiovisual Media Services Directive):
1. Member States shall ensure freedom of reception and shall not restrict retransmissions on their territory of audiovisual media services from other Member States for reasons which fall within the fields coordinated by this Directive.
2. In respect of television broadcasting, Member States may provisionally derogate from paragraph 1 if the following conditions are fulfilled:
(a) a television broadcast coming from another Member State manifestly, seriously and gravely infringes Article 27(1) or (2) and/or Article 6;
(b) during the previous 12 months, the broadcaster has infringed the provision(s) referred to in point (a) on at least two prior occasions;
(c) the Member State concerned has notified the broadcaster and the Commission in writing of the alleged infringements and of the measures it intends to take should any such infringement occur again; HU 15.4.2010 Official Journal of the European Union L 95/13.
(d) consultations with the transmitting Member State and the Commission have not produced an amicable settlement within 15 days of the notification provided for in point (c), and the alleged infringement persists.
The Commission shall, within 2 months following notification of the measures taken by the Member State, take a decision on whether the measures are compatible with Union law. If it decides that they are not, the Member State will be required to put an end to the measures in question as a matter of urgency.