x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Hungarian radio station first to be cited under harsh new media law

Hungary's new all-powerful media authority has opened an inquiry into a small private radio station, Tilos, for broadcasting a number by US rapper-cum-actor Ice-T, the radio said Saturday.

BUDAPEST // Hungary's new all-powerful media authority has opened an inquiry into a small private radio station, Tilos, for broadcasting a number by US rapper-cum-actor Ice-T, the radio said Saturday.

A letter from the NMHH authority, published on the radio's website, said it opened its investigation in September after the radio ran Ice-T's "Warning, it's on" that month at 1730 local.

NMHH said the song was "gangster-rap" and "could influence the development of minors in a negative way". Tilos should have broadcast it after 2100, it said.

Ice-T, also known for his role as an NYPD detective in "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit", said on twitter "I love it! The world still fears me. Hahaha!"

The radio on the other hand countered that it had few listeners aged under 16 and that even among young English-speakers in Hungary, few would be able to understand the rapper's lyrics.

Hungarian websites said the NMHH stand recalled the Communist days of the 60s and 70s when censors warned against the destructive potential of Punk.

Hungary's new law, which has sparked concerns about media freedom in the country, came into force on Saturday in the teeth of fierce opposition.

Under the new legislation, the media authority headed by members of Prime Minister Viktor Orban's Fidesz party will be given the power to impose fines for material not deemed politically balanced and to force journalists to reveal sources in cases involving national security.

Radio and television stations could be fined up to 730,000 euros (975,000 dollars) for going against "public interest, public morals and order", or for broadcasting "partial information", without the media authority having to clearly specify what constitutes an infringement of the law.

The Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe has warned that the law "if misused, can silence critical media and public debate in the country".

With Hungary taking over the rotating six-month presidency of the European Union on Saturday, Germany has said it is concerned the law could run counter to press freedom.

"Hungary will have a particular responsibility for the image of the whole union in the world," a German government spokesman said, adding that Berlin would "watch with close attention" how it was applied.