Friday, September 14, 2012

Shock: I agree with the OSCE

This does not happen very often but I actually agree with the OSCE. Its Representative on Media Freedom (OK, they have just lost me) has criticized certain developments in Hungary, where, in the wake of recent media legislation the blogosphere has become even more important, being the only place where free comments can be made. Well, up to a point, as we shall see.

The official Hungarian News Agency (MTI) is taking the journalist and blogger György Balavány to court because he has, allegedly, libelled them. Even in the UK, which, I have assumed hitherto, the world's worst libel laws, an organization cannot sue an individual or another organization. You cannot libel an organization.
Balavány, a journalist with the political weekly HVG and a blogger, posted two blogs on his personal website on 23 July and 14 August, claiming that public service media use taxpayers’ money to misinform the public. The Hungarian News Agency (MTI) says its reputation and commercial interests were damaged by the blogs, and demands from the journalist ten million Hungarian Forints (approximately 36,000 euro) in damages, a public apology and the removal of the blogs.
The curious thing is that the claim sounds to me like little more than statement of fact and would be in any country in the world.


  1. Re libel of an organization. I have forgotten the actual case, but am I right in thinking that about a decade ago the EU tried to say that it had been defamed by its critics when an EU advocate general used an interpretation of the law to suggest that the EU itself did have a right to silence its critics if it felt it had been defamed (you can of course defame by telling the truth...)? Sorry I cannot remember the actual case but I think that one side or the other (or both) used the principle of a case between The Times and Derbyshire County Council as a precedent.

  2. Worth checking up, I think. As soon as I get a bit of spare time. But I am fairly certain that the principle of you cannot libel or defame an organization holds.

  3. Indeed, and I have a feeling that this what the Times v Derbyshire County Council judgement stated, but from memory I think (think!) the EU Advocate General (from Spain) claimed that in the case of the EU and coverage of whistleblowers, they could rely upon the use of the word "heresy" to force people to not cover the comments of whistleblowers and to suppress inconvenient facts about the EU. I am just not sure how it was all resolved. No doubt it'll come back and bite us in future with courts in 2019 telling us that the man from Spain resolved it all those years ago and we should all know it is heresy to criticise the EU and are barred from doing so on those grounds...will try and get hold of the facts, rather than just banging on

  4. Something is stirring in what is laughingly called my brain cells. More investigation is called for.