Through multiple actions during 2010, the Parliament completely restructured the conditions for exercising media freedom. The laws regulating the media were drafted with the complete exclusion of the public but with the non-transparent involvement of only a select few interest groups. The resulting regulatory package threatens an unreasonably wide range of media providers with rather severe sanctions that can be applied by a media authority with unprecedented investigative powers and composed entirely of nominees from the larger governing party, based on rather vaguely defined media legislations.
The implemented institutional system and operative framework are not suitable to provide the conditions for either diversified commercial broadcasting or impartial and quality public service broadcasting. There is a high risk that the constant threatening of journalists and editorial offices and the resulting distorted media market conditions will lead to the elimination of certain viewpoints and information from the public domain and, in certain cases, to their overemphasis. Self censorship and the disproportionate increase of dominance of certain politically non-neutral business groups in the marketplace of ideas prevent the public from being involved in accordance with democratic principles.
The main criticisms of the accepted media laws are as follows:
- The law determines an unreasonably broad range of media providers under the regulation, as a result of which both printed and web-based media materials without motion picture are placed under the Media Council's supervision. In the case of infringement that so far have been remedied in court through legal disputes between the aggrieved party and the media (privacy protection) and/or through legal disputes initiated by the prosecutor's office (hate speech) and, pursuant to the law, official and administrative measures may also be applied.
- When comparing the rather vaguely defined scope of jurisdiction of the authority (see: public morality, constitutional order), and the amount of fines that may be imposed, it can be determined that the new legislation is a severe and unreasonable restriction of press freedom, which means that the activities of journalists and editors will be at constant and unpredictable risk. It is clear that the amount of fines potentially allows the authority to make the operation of certain media impossible.
- The media authority has an unreasonably wide scope of "investigative" jurisdiction which allows the authority to review/copy all of the documents of editorial offices and journalists without prior court approval. The so-called media commissioner may also exercise her excessive rights to review data even in those infringement cases that are outside of the media authority's jurisdiction, and even in the event of interest violations that do not constitute infringement.
- The Media Council may also require the providers of Internet access and storage space to cease transmission of content that violates the law. This imposes serious burden on the access providers especially, it is ultimately not in line with the operation of the Internet, and can be easily abused technologically.
- The Media Council, which has significant and material control over the entire media selection and the programs of each broadcaster through the distribution of broadcasting rights and monitoring program requirements, was created on the basis of nomination and selection rules that allowed for the involvement of nominees exclusively from the larger governing party. As a result, the government and/or the parliamentary majority gains sole influence over the control of the media system while making it impossible to oversee the media authority's operations. Completely excluding the opposition from the media authority's operations does not exclusively and primarily mean exclusion from decision- making, but it may also make it impossible to monitor the preparation and justification of decisions.
- The chairperson of the Media Council is appointed by the prime minister and elected by the Parliament with two-third majority. The chairperson has a scope of authority broad enough to enable him/her to effectively shape the most important decisions relevant to the media system. The chairperson's political independence is not provided for under the current regulatory environment.
- The rules on tender procedures for broadcasting frequencies allow the Media Council to prolong the closing of bids for a given media service right (frequency) as long as there is a bidder who is to the authority's liking. In fact, the authority may terminate the tendering process at any time if "by its own consideration, the media policy aspects cannot be ensured by completing the tender procedure." There are other tender rules as well that allow the authority to arbitrarily apply the laws, such as by failure to regulate the evaluation criteria, and lead to complete legal uncertainty, as well as ambiguous and unpredictable procedure with regards to the bidders.
- One of the fundamental problems relating to the public service broadcasting is the unjustified and non-transparent structural integration. Consequently, certain public service media providers will not only lose their ability to manage their assets and workforce but, through the centralization of news broadcasting, the regulations prevent them from performing one of their main activities – providing information. The merger that lacks consideration and consistency causes operational problems in the initial phase and apparently distorts the provision of news.
- The next serious problem with public service broadcasting is that there is still no document that could be used to clearly define the public service obligations and the compliance thereto. Consequently, there is a lack of transparency in financing. The law does not tie the financing with the performance of any particular task, and the amount of the available funds does not relate in any way to the actual expenses of the relevant public service media providers. The regulation can only be in line with the community legislation if it sets out all resources of funding public service broadcasting not as a system closed off at the top level but one that is designed based on technical criteria, while adjusting the resourcesto validated needs.
- The complete lack of rules restricting the interweaving of various media types (cross-ownership) violates the requirement of diversified information in the long run. The media market trends confirm the risk that a given enterprise may be able to present its own views via various media types – television, radio, newspapers and online services. This poses a serious constitutional risk particularly with regards to the domestic media market trends.