Hungary PM 'ready to change' media law if EU demands

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban acknowledged the media law was a ''sensitive issue''

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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said his government is prepared to change the country's controversial new media law if required by the EU.

Under the law, a watchdog has the power to impose fines for violating "public interest, public morals or order".

Hungary's centre-right government has just taken on the EU presidency and the law has prompted sharp criticism from France and Germany.

The European Commission has said it will sanction Budapest if necessary.

Critics of the new watchdog say it is dominated by figures loyal to Mr Orban and his centre-right Fidesz party.

Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has warned that "freedom of the press is a sacred principle" and announced he would discuss the issue with Mr Orban.

The Hungarian prime minister reiterated his strong defence of the law, arguing: "I defy anyone to find anything in our law that is not in other EU member states' media laws."

He told a news conference Budapest would accept "any procedure that the EU starts" but stressed that if Hungary's media laws needed changing, so too would similar legislation in France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Hungary has sent a translated text of the law to legal experts in Brussels who will seek to clarify whether the terms comply with EU legislation.

The commission is due to meet Hungarian ministers on Friday.

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