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2001 May - August

The first of May, the ORTT initiates an inquiry following Tamás Frei's report shown on RTL Klub the 23d of April, in which the subject of the interview specified how much he would ask for in order to kill the Prime Minister. RTL Klub management recognized that they had made a professional mistake and they apologized conjointly with Tamás Frei to the Prime Minister. Because of the situation, András Piller, managing director, and Bence Gyöngyössy, programme manager, were forced to resign. László Juszt will later question the trustworthiness of the interview: according to him, Tamás Frei spoke not with a hired killer, but with a paid extra. RTL Klub suspends for an illimited amount of time the broadcasting of Frei's programme. The ORTT declared that RTL Klub had moreover broken two provisions of the Media Act. The resulting sanction for the commercial channel: a 5.7 millon forint penalty and a 10 minute broadcasting suspension.

In May as well, Fidesz protests against an article by Csaba Nagy published in the March 13th issue of Magyar Hírlap. As a result, the party bars the correspondants of that newspaper from attending its events. Both SZDSZ and MSZP object to this boycott. The experts think that Fidesz-MPP has seriousely violated the right to gather and report information. The Hungarian Press House organizes a conference, during which, out of the 13 press organs participating, all but three agree that discrimination has occured and assure Magyar Hírlap of their solidarity. Though the daily apologized only a couple of days after publishing the article, Fidesz resolves not to change its position, until the newspaper apologizes again - which Magyar Hírlap does in a written letter to Viktor Orbán and László Kövér.

In May, the SZDSZ offers a compromise in order to solve the lack of balance in the public media and suggests two alternative solutions: that the political parties withdraw from the board of trustees or that their voting power in that body be limited to the voting power they have in Parliament.

Also in May, the Liberal Circle in Nógrád protests in an open letter against a note by István Lovas made public in May the 6th broadcast of Vasárnapi Újság. They demand that the station be charged with consistently violating the Media Act. They find it revolting that the most brutal anti-tsigane mongering could be heard on Magyar Rádió.

In May, Ferenc Mádl did not sign an amendment relative to law and order voted by Parliament because he found it risky from a constitutional point of view. According to a Constitutional Court ruling made on the 10th of May, a convict's right to make public statements can be limited for national security reasons and in order to protect state secrets. On the other hand the Court rejects the notion that such a right may be limited with reference to public safety, protecting the good reputation of others, crime prevention, or keeping official secrets, as was originally stated in the amendment.

At the end of May, the board of MTV's public foundation is given permission to initiate a motion of no confidence against vice-chairman-in-charge, Károly Mendreczky, in the case of the programme contracts. Based on a complaint by two SZDSZ members of Parliament, the ORFK starts investigating. At the same time Magyar Televízió's board of supervision directors similarly files a criminal complaint because of suspected negligence and misappropriation in the signing of contracts regarding programmes out-sourced by MTV Rt.

On May the 29th, the House of Parliament adopts, in spite of the opposition's objections, the bill ensuring the right to reply in the press, known as lex Répássy. The President of the Republic asks the Constitutional Court for an interlocutory control of the law.

In June, Kristóf Varga, a board member commissionned by the SZDSZ, declares that the films made about the Prime Minister's platform for a total cost of 3 million forints, have no documentary value. Varga believes they are nothing but campaign films: hence, money is being squandered at the Center for Nation Image and the film-making must cease immediately.

In August, Dezso Pintér, tv2 chairman, announces that his channel will not broadcast political spots during the 2002 electoral campaign. Rather, they will brodcast public debates between the prime ministerial candidates, or they will inform about the course of the election during the first and second rounds. Since RTL Klub made a similar decision, the only option left to the parties is the insignificant audience of Magyar Televízió. The parties do not fear that the public channels will deprive them of opportunities to appear.

In August as well, László Majtényi, data safety officer, states that the individual rights of more than seven million citizens have been violated by the fact that the Center for National Image obtained and used mail address to send personalized copies of the cultural magazine, Milleniumi Országjáró. The ombudsman asked the two ministries involved in the case to initiate an inquiry in order to establish who was responsible but nothing happened.

In August as well, on a well-grounded suspicion of crime committed so as to hurt significant interests in front of a large audience, János Homoki, Defense Under-Secretary, files a complaint against the Internet newspaper and publisher stop! As well, he files a suit against Telnet Magyarország Rt. and soon after initiates court proceedings against the Rt. for violating rights related to persons. Homoki asked the newspaper to publish a correction following the publishing of an article about the renonvation of MIG 29 jet fighters but the newspaper did not comply.

On August the 29th, the Consitutional Court started examining the lex-Répássy.

In August again, it becomes known that RTL Klub has violated the Media Act provision regarding cross ownership, because they possess an influential stake in both the commercial channel and Népszabadság Rt. As a consequence, az ORTT requests the programme provider redress that grievance.

At the end of August, the president of MTV's supervision committee initiates an inquiry because of a possible agreement made between public television and an outside firm about using advertising time. The committee did indeed hear about the agreement much later.

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