On 3 July 2019, the Hungarian parliament adopted an important amendment to the Media Act, which makes sweeping changes to Hungary's media landscape and transposes the EU's Audiovisual Media Service Directive (AVMS) into law.

The new rules go into force on 1 August 2019, except for certain obligations relating to media accessibility for persons with disabilities, which will enter into force on 19 September 2020.

Main changes brought on by the AVMSD

Those parts of the amendment concerning rules contained in the revised AVMS include:

  • A strengthened Country-of-Origin Principle with more clarity on applicable jurisdiction.

  • Regulations on the operation of video-sharing platforms.

  • Increased protection for minors, including new powers for the media authority to enforce the usage of age-verification tools or similar technical measures.

  • An increased quota (from 25% to 30%) for European works to be included in on-demand services.

  • Reinforced protections against programming that might incite violence, hatred or terrorism.

  • Greater flexibility in television advertising by enabling broadcasters to decide on the timing of advertising with a 20% cap on broadcasting time on average between 6:00 to 18:00 and from 18:00 to 24:00.

  • Protection of signal integrity whereby operators must ensure that audiovisual media services distributed on their systems are not, without the explicit consent of the media providers, overlaid for commercial purposes or modified with certain exceptions.

Other significant changes: elimination of the must-offer obligation

One key change contained in the amendment that was not linked to the AVMS is the decision by lawmakers to eliminate the must-offer obligation from the Media Act.

Until the amendment takes effect, media service providers with significant powers of influence (“SPI”) are obliged to accept an operator’s contractual offers if they were fair and reasonable. SPIs are also required to determine and publish their general terms and conditions in accordance with the law, and apply them to every contractual relationship. Currently, until the amendments go into effect on August 1, two media services fall under the must-offer obligation, RTL Klub and TV2, which are the most popular channels in the country. After August 1, the providers of these channels are free to make agreements with operators without any mandatory conditions and without supervision by authorities.

In addition, the amendment specifies that certain types of media services will be exempt from rules aimed at preventing market concentration.