Status: Free
Legal Environment: 5 (of 30)
Political Environment: 9 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 7 (of 30)
Total Score: 21 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)

Hungary's constitution protects freedom of speech and of the press. A wide selection of competitive media outlets generally operate without interference from the state. Independent news outlets operate freely in Hungary, and they clearly reflect the divisions of the national political scene. Among the successes of 2007, the media uncovered a number of high profile incidents of corruption. The Media Law of 1996 continues to be widely criticized as insufficient. Libel remains a criminal offense, and the criminal code holds journalists responsible not only for their own words, but also for publicizing insulting or libelous statements made by others. Restrictive state secrecy legislation has also raised concerns, and brought criticism by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media. A regulatory vacuum was created by a Constitutional Court decision to abolish the capacity the regulatory body ORTT to levy fines and sanctions against media outlets.

While most media seem to operate freely, media advocates note a slight pro-governmental bias in most state-owned media. Some individual journalists were also exposed to pressure from state organs including two incidents of detainment and questionings. One TV journalist covering politics was pressured into leaving a morning show after a boycott by several political parties. In several isolated incidents, journalists seem to have been harassed by law enforcement authorities, including the arrest of two journalists covering an unauthorized demonstration and the questioning of journalists investigating allegedly corrupt public officials.

The media landscape is dominated by private companies, with high levels of foreign investment in both national and local newspapers. Diversity is on the rise in both print and electronic media, most notable is the increase in vibrant and influential domestically-owned electronic media outlets. The internet is widely accessible, and is governed by a voluntary code of conduct introduced by a professional association of internet content and service providers.

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