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Panda satire hurts Hungarian radio station

Criticism of Hungary media law flares up

RobK(Photo: Chi King/Neo/clipart.com)

Only days after the Hungarian parliament formally approved a controversial new media law, renewed criticism of the law was sparked by a fine imposed on a radio station for poking fun at animals. 

Music station Neo FM, in an edition of its satirical show "Boomerang" made some jokes about species which are in danger of disappearing. The Media council fined the station 800 euros following a complaint from an animal rights activist.
 
The Media Council members are appointed by the Budapest parliament and serve a nine-year term. All members of the council, which is seen as powerful, are said to be associates of Prime Minister Viktor Orban's Fidesz party. Last month the Fidesz-dominated parliament approved a controversial new media law. The OSCE has said that the law, despite some changes, was still too unspecific about the criteria for licensing broadcasters.
 
Pandas do nothing
 
The presenters at Neo FM had said that, for example, it would not matter to anybody if pandas became extinct, "because they do nothing else all day but sit on their behinds and eat". Turtles, too, came in for some sarcastic comments. "They have lived long enough anyway."
 
In response to the complaint, the Media Council judged that with their behavior, the station's presenters had "given a bad example to children". 
 
The political Velemenyvezer blog, which revealed the affair on Thursday, said that it confirmed "our worst fears", as the law apparently permits the Media Council to "remodel the Hungarian media landscape after its own image". The blog criticised the unbalanced make-up of the council.
 

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