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The Development of Freedom of the Media in a Newborn Democracy: The Hungarian Perspective

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The door which led to the recognition of the idea of media freedom was opened for Hungary in 1989, when the state became a democracy. The newly established Constitutional Court became the most important guardian of the rule of law, the constitutional order, and fundamental rights. According to the Court freedom of expression has a unique position among other fundamental rights. The privileged position of the right of free speech and media freedom obviously did not mean that these rights could not be restricted, but the CC placed them on top of the fundamental rights' imagined hierarchy, just after the right to life and human dignity.

The article considers the theoretical foundations of media freedom according to the Constitutional Court, the basis of media regulation and then the main problems that could arise in the media field: defamation law, prior restraints, content regulation and the right of reply.

One can say that in the last two decades Hungarian media law joined the European legal tradition again, and has been trying to imitate the latest developments in this field.

Consequently, it now faces the same difficulties the converged and digitalised new media world brought with itself.

Document Type: Commentary

Publication date: July 1, 2010

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  • The only platform for focused, rigorous analysis of global developments in media law, this new peer-reviewed journal is:

    • essential for teaching and research
    • essential for practice
    • essential for policy-making.

    It turns the spotlight on all those aspects of law which impinge on and shape modern media practices - from regulation and ownership, to libel law and constitutional aspects of broadcasting such as free speech and privacy, obscenity laws, copyright, piracy, and other aspects of IT law. The result is the first journal to take a serious view of law through the lens.


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