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EU: Hungary Agrees to Amend Media Law

Some EU legislators covered their mouth with duct tape and held banners protesting Hungary's controversial media law, as that country's PM Viktor Orban spoke at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Jan. 19 2011

The European Union says Hungary has agreed to bring its controversial new media law in line with EU requirements, an issue that had overshadowed the start of Hungary's EU presidency.

EU telecommunications chief Neelie Kroes said Wednesday the bloc is pleased with Hungary's proposed changes to the law.

The EU official said the European Union will work with Hungary to ensure the changes are incorporated into Hungarian law, and that the revised law is consistently applied.

Kroes had recently said Hungary's new media law may violate EU standards.

The law's original wording called for imposing large fines on broadcasters, publishers and Internet outlets that distribute content authorities call offensive, unbalanced or not in the public interest. Those accused of violating the rules faced large fines.

Critics said the law is ill-defined and stifles free speech.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban had said he would be willing to change the law if EU legal experts found problems with it.