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Fidesz MEP slams EU’s Media Freedom Act as ‘censorship law’

An MEP of ruling Fidesz slammed the Media Freedom Act adopted by the European Parliament on Wednesday as "a censorship law attempting to regulate member states' media systems by infringing on the states' competencies and in consultation with organisations of the Soros network, although it purportedly protects the independence and pluralism of media."

“The law is another attempt from Brussels to curb member states’ sovereignty. It aims to make sure that only Brussels’ voice can be heard, and gives the EU an opportunity to oppress patriotic and Christian conservative views and values. This is unacceptable. Brussels is building total control over media and a centralised system of censorship before our eyes,” Andrea Bocskor said.

She also slammed the regulation for disregarding country-specific characteristics and pushing a generic regulation for all member states. It also allows the EU to curb certain contents in public media by imposing sanctions, she said.

“Hungary is committed to a multi-faceted media and the freedom of opinion. This regulation is clearly another attempt to weaken and silence right-wing forces ahead of the EP elections,” she said.

Under the EU treaties, regulation of the law’s subject matter is in the hands of the member states. The law “is a stealthy attempt to widen Brussels’ competencies,” said the MEP.

The Media Freedom Act obligates member states to protect the independence of media and bans influencing editorial decisions, the European Parliament said in a press release.

“Authorities will be prohibited from pressing journalists and editors to disclose their sources, including by detaining them, sanctions, office searches, or by installing intrusive surveillance software on their electronic devices,” the EP said.

The EP also tightened the use of spyware on journalists’ devices, “which will be possible only on a case-by-case basis and subject to authorisation by a judicial authority… Even in these cases, subjects will have the right to be informed after the surveillance has occurred and will be able to challenge it in court.”

To avoid the use of public media for political ends, the law said the heads and board members of public media institutions must be “selected through transparent and non-discriminatory procedures for sufficiently long terms of office. It will not be possible to dismiss them before their contract ends, unless they no longer meet the professional criteria,” the press release said.

Additionally, the law regulates the operation of large online platforms. “Platforms will first have to distinguish independent media from non-independent sources. Media would be notified when the platform intends to delete or restrict their content and have 24 hours to respond.”

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