Proposed legislation would compel Hungarian media outlets to employ government agents

November 5, 2015

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Interior minister Sándor Pintér proposes to modify Hungary’s national security law to require content providers to employ government agents, reports Hungarian news site Index.hu.

The ministry does not deny that the legislative proposal it recently submitted can be interpreted as such, but the ministry did say the proposal might still be modified further.

The 34-page proposal would modify the national security law to allow the heads of Hungary’s national security agencies to foist their employees upon the staffs of various important state-owned enterprises, telecommunications and postal services, state energy companies, defense research companies, and “content providers”.

While not defining precisely what kind of content providers the law would target, the reasoning offered in the bill itself cites Hungary’s liberalization of telecommunication and postal services as a reason for the change.

Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP) parliamentarian Tamás Harangozó submitted a modification to the draft legislation Tuesday in an attempt to remove the “content provider” section from the proposal. Harangozó says the term is loosely defined that it can easily pave the way for the state to forcibly insert agents onto the staffs of newspapers companies, and radio and television broadcasters.

Previously media outlets wishing receive their fair share of government advertising were encouraged to hire Fidesz editorial advisers.  Refusal on the part of former origo.hu editor-in-chief Gergő Sáling to do so was reportedly behind his sacking, as well as that of his predecessor.