The Media Council has no competence over public media audio recordings

Published: 8 December 2020

According to the decision made at this week’s session, due to lack of jurisdiction, the Media Council of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH) will not initiate proceedings in relation to the complaints it received regarding the news editing practices of the public service media service provider. The board also finalised the invitations to tender for radio frequencies in Pápa and Budapest and completed the formal review of frequency tenders for Nyíregyháza and Mosonmagyaróvár frequencies.

Due to the absence of provisions within its competence, the Media Council will not initiate proceedings against Duna Médiaszolgáltató Nonprofit Zrt.

The Media Council conducted an investigation based on complaints objecting to the news editing practices of Duna Médiaszolgáltató Nonprofit Zrt., in reference to the recordings released on 12 November. The board established that the provisions under the authority’s competence have not been violated, therefore the Media Council did not initiate proceedings against the service provider. Regarding the application of media regulations, media service providers may only be held liable for the content they publish; the laws on media governance do not extend to any possible infringements made in the course of programme production. Furthermore, the Media Act emphasizes the principle of editorial freedom, according to which media service providers may freely determine the principles and considerations based on which they compile their programmes, the subject of their reporting and the manner and depth in which the topics are dealt with.

The complainants also referred to the violation of the fundamental principles of public service broadcasting, however, said principles are general and declarative provisions stated in the Media Act and are not established in specific facts, therefore due to the absence of rules of competence, the Media Council cannot examine their observance. Moreover, the board cannot examine the observance of the rules of the Public Service Code, as this is monitored by the Public Service Board.

Although the complaints also objected to the lack of balanced coverage, pursuant to media regulation, the board may only examine this upon request and in relation to specific content. Such objections are to be initially indicated to the media service provider within 72 hours of the airing of the programme, specifically defining the disregarded perspective that substantively deviated from the contested coverage. However, some of the submissions received by the Media Council failed to indicate a specific programme, whilst the two programmes referred to in the other submissions were aired several months prior to the complaint, therefore the special conditions set forth in the Media Act have not been met.

Radio tenders

The Media Council has finalised and will publish on its website on Friday the invitation to tender for the commercial use of the Pápa 95.7 MHz frequency with a local coverage area as well as the Budapest 89.5 MHz frequency with a regional coverage area. Bids can be submitted on 18 January for the frequency in Pápa and on 20 January for the frequency in Budapest.

The Media Council has carried out the formal examination of bids submitted for the community use of the Nyíregyháza 106.8 MHz frequency with a regional coverage area as well as the Mosonmagyaróvár 99.7 MHz frequency with a local coverage area. In relation to the tender for the frequency in Nyíregyháza, the board called on Médiahíd Kft. and on Katolikus Rádió Zrt. in relation to the tender for the Mosonmagyaróvár frequency to submit missing documents.

The Media Council authorised Karc FM Média Kft. to commence its KARC FM 98.4 community media service broadcasting on the Sopron 98.4 frequency with a local coverage area by 6 February instead of 8 December.

Audit of radio and television channels subject to the obligation of annual reporting

The Media Council reviewed compliance with reporting obligations for the year 2019 amongst media service providers with said obligations. The board identified violations in the case of 26 media service providers, 25 of which submitted their reports after receiving a notice, while one business – Progretto Média Kft. – received a fine of HUF 70 thousand. When imposing legal consequences, the Media Council always determines the form and extent of these with due consideration of all circumstances of the specific case and employs the principles of progressiveness and proportionality.

The full agenda of the Media Council’s weekly sessions can be found on the Board’s website, along with the minutes of the meetings and all decisions taken; the latest decisions will be published after the necessary validation and administration period.