According to the Curia’s ruling, the Media Council evaluated the programme of M1 correctly, which was based on MSZP’s request
The Media Council of the National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH) legitimately dismissed the Hungarian Socialist Party’s (MSZP) request for balanced coverage, in which the party objected to the lack of a more detailed presentation of its standpoint and the publication of its statement in a programme on M1 in relation to the lawsuit in the case of representatives entering the public media building – as established by the Curia’s ruling dated 5 November. The board stated that the media service provider informed its viewers appropriately on the existence of opposing views and fully satisfied the requirement of balanced coverage.
The ruling of the Curia – overruling the decisions of the Metropolitan Court of first instance – decided on the legality of the decision of the Media Council made in relation to MSZP’s request on balanced coverage of the 27 September 2019 edition of the “Ma este” programme on M1. The ruling, which was forwarded to the Media Council in early December, states that balanced coverage means that the media service provider must present relevant, opposing opinions and according to the Curia’s position, the contested segment of the programme satisfies said demands. The ruling, which is in line with the Media Council’s appeal, emphasizes that since the programme’s subject was a lawsuit – on the legality of the parliamentary representatives’ presence in the public media building – it was obvious to the viewers that the concerned parties had opposing positions. Therefore, the fact of the legal dispute itself was enough for viewers to clearly establish that there were opposing views in the subject. Additionally – as rightfully indicated by the Media Council – the presenters and the guests in the studio separately and repeatedly referred to the opposing views. However – pursuant to the act on the freedom of the press and the fundamental rules on media content – no one has the right to ex officio demand their presence in any media or the publishing of their opinion. The Curia stated that as a media service provider, Duna Médiaszolgáltató Nonprofit Zrt. presented the opposing standpoints of the two sides to an adequate and sufficient degree suitable for establishing counterpoints.
No further review of this ruling may be sought.
In the autumn of 2019, the MSZP contacted the Media Council with the complaint that on 27 September, the media service provider failed to present the party’s statement on the court’s decision – in which it overruled the relevant notarial judgement – of first instance that dismissed the Media Service Support and Asset Management Fund’s (MTVA) protection of property petition due to the events that took place at the Kunigunda building in December 2018. According to the position of the MSZP, the media service provider thus failed to satisfy the requirements of balanced coverage. Although it is a fact that the media service provider did not read out the statement itself, one of the reports of the day’s edition of the “Ma este” programme on M1 explained that the first instance ruling in the property protection lawsuit favoured the position of the representatives. The MSZP also objected to the fact that the relevant opposition parties, parliamentary representatives, legal representatives or other legal experts could not express their views on the ruling in the property protection lawsuit and had no opportunity to react to the contents of the programme or to the opinions of the legal representatives of MTVA, which was unsuccessful at first instance. The Media Council dismissed the MSZP’s petition for balanced coverage as the media service provider is not obliged to present opposing views in detail – in this case, those of MSZP – or invite the concerned individuals as guests of the programme. The media service provider is solely obliged to clarify that there are opposing views and this was clear to the viewers of the programme.
MSZP lodged an appeal against the decision to the court. The Metropolitan Court of first instance annulled the ruling of the Media Council and obliged the Media Council to conduct a new proceeding. The Media Council lodged an appeal against the decision to the Curia as the court of second instance, which overruled the court judgement of first instance on 5 November 2020 and dismissed the MSZP’s petition.