Hungarian-Romanian cooperation in relation to the inappropriate age rating of Mozi+

Published: 24 September 2020

At its latest session, the Media Council of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH) announced the winner of the tender procedure for the community use of a Szeged radio frequency. At the initiative of the Hungarian Authority, the Romanian media supervisory body imposed a fine equivalent to over HUF 500 thousand on the service provider of Mozi+ for airing the film Logan at an inappropriate time and with inappropriate age ratings. The Media Council amended its classification recommendations.

The winner of the tender procedure for the community use of the regional frequency Szeged 100.2 MHz is the sole bidder, Karc FM Média Kft.

Subsequent to the report of the Media Council, the Romanian Partner Authority, NAC established that the service provider of the Mozi+ channel, under the Romanian media authority’s jurisdiction but broadcasting in Hungary, violated Romanian law by airing the film Logan in May from 7.00 p.m. with the inappropriate age rating of “not recommended under 12 years of age”, instead of 15 years of age. Pursuant to Romanian law, programmes containing violent scenes are to be aired with an age rating of “only recommended over 15 years of age” and screened between 11.00 p.m. and 6.00 a.m. Pursuant to Hungarian laws, the channel should have aired the film with an age rating of “only recommended over 16 years of age”, screening it between 9.00 p.m. and 5.00 a.m. The Partner Authority imposed a fine of RON 7500 – approx. HUF 561 thousand – on the channel’s service provider.

The Board terminated the proceedings regarding balanced coverage based on a request against the service provider of Euronews due to a lack of jurisdiction. According to the applicant, the fact that the channel was the first to present as a fact the victory of the collective opposition candidate after the second round of the Polish presidential elections, prior to the announcement of the results was illegal and misled viewers. As the registered offices of the channel’s service provider are in France, pursuant to the Media Act, it does not fall under the jurisdiction of the NMHH – regardless of the fact that it broadcasts in Hungary and in Hungarian language – therefore the Authority could not act in the case.

Due to the changes in the Media Act, the Media Council amended its classification recommendations regarding the age rating of films and programmes. The Board extended its recommendations to captioned news: the use of such captions is to be avoided in the case of programmes recommended for viewers under 12 years of age or younger audiences. This method of presentation can also be problematic if news is displayed about unforeseen, violent, shocking events even if their content does not exceed the level acceptable for the particular age rating group of the programme in question. Should the information listed in the captions exceed the age rating of the programme in question, the programme itself is to be placed in a higher age rating category. Additionally, the new recommendations were supplemented by examples of programmes that assist the separation of age rating categories in the texts describing the various categories. The renewed classification recommendations will be available on the website of NMHH within a few days.