What jurisdiction does the Authority have over the printed press?

Legislative provisions applicable to all Hungarian media content and their respective creators are set out in prevailing media law – commonly referred to as the Media Act and the Media Constitution. The NMHH is a competent organisation overseeing the compliance of affected media, including printed press products. All of this is important to provide players of the media market with a predictable environment to operate in, as well as to ensure the protection of consumers in the possible most effective way.

Under prevailing media law, print media products are not subject to regular supervision by the Authority – as opposed to linear media services such as radio and television. Therefore, infringements by the printed press will only come under the NMHH’s radar upon citizen reports. Such reports, made on mass media products both printed and online, particularly focus on the assumed violations of law prohibiting hate-mongering and marginalising content, as well as those protecting minors.

The legislation commonly known as the Media Constitution contains provisions that also apply to printed press products: it sets out limitations on the freedom of the press (for all media content) and stipulates specific rules tailored to the various types of media content.

As regards printed press products, the NMHH may investigate compliance with the following:

  • self-gratifying and detrimental coverage of persons in humiliating or defenceless situations is prohibited;
  • consent to the publication of statements intended to be made public or to being featured in a media content may not be misused by media service providers;
  • no media content may violate constitutional order;
  • the media content may not incite hatred against, or be aimed at the marginalisation of, any nations or communities, national, ethnic, linguistic and other minorities or any majority as well as any religious groups.
  • Access to media content in the printed press that could materially damage the intellectual, spiritual, moral or physical development of minors (especially with depictions of pornography and unreasonable violence) may only be granted to the general public in a manner that prevents minors – by the application of an appropriate technical or other solution – from accessing such content (if this is not possible, minors must be informed of such potential harm);
  • the presentation of minors in ways that can greatly impair their age-appropriate mental or physical development is prohibited;
  • under regulations on commercial announcements that also apply to the printed press:
    • Commercial announcements must be recognizable in nature and distinguishable from other media contents, and the use of implied commercial announcements and other subliminal stimuli is prohibited;
    • no commercial announcement that may offend religious or ideological convictions may be published;
    • commercial announcements may not encourage behaviour prejudicial to health, to safety or to the protection of the environment;
    • no media content with a commercial announcement promoting tobacco products, weapons, ammunition, explosives, unlicensed gambling, prescription medicines or therapeutic procedures may be published.

Based on a Constitutional Court ruling, the scope of the provision stipulating the respect of human dignity does not extend to the printed press; therefore, its observance can only be investigated in media services.

Reports made on printed press products are forwarded by the Media Council – based on administrative contracts made under the Media Act with professional organisations – to self-regulating organisations that will proceed, in cases set out in said contracts, against parties willing to voluntarily subject themselves to co-regulatory procedures as applicable. The Media Act and the administrative contracts made with professional organisations define the cases that may be supervised by co-regulatory bodies only for the printed and online press, as well as for on-demand media services. The functions affect administrative cases within the competence of the Media Council, which are being handled by the Authority jointly with self-regulatory organizations. With regards to print media products, the Media Council cooperates with the Hungarian Publishers’ Association. The co-regulatory agreement is available at: http://nmhh.hu/dokumentum/153679/mle_szerzodes_egyseges_szerkezet_120912.pdf

It must be noted that the legal institutions of correction and privacy violation are regulated within the framework of civil procedures; therefore, pertaining action may be filed only with a civil court. The NMHH has no jurisdiction to proceed with correction requests.