Hungarian Deputy Prime Minister Tibor Navracsics called it an acceptable compromise in a letter sent to Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland last December that the President of the National and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH) should invariably be appointed for nine years term but only for a single term.

According to the letter, dated December 19, Secretary General Jagland originally proposed that the NMHH head should be elected by parliament rather than appointed by the prime minister. Deputy Prime Minister Navracsics, in turn, proposed that the authority's leader should be appointed by the president of the republic.

He argued that Parliament's electing the media authority head would require an amendment to the constitution which would be incompatible with the basic principle of separation of powers. This is why he did not accept the Secretary General's proposal.

The Deputy Prime Minister pointed out that there are some institutions, for instance the Central Bank, which are part of the executive branch but independent from the Government, and their leaders are not elected by Parliament either. He said that having a "politically neutral president of the republic" to appoint the media authority head ensures a "strong guarantee" of independence.

Secretary General Jagland also proposed on November 29 last year that the NMHH and the Media Council should be presided by two different persons. The Hungarian official responded, however, saying that accepting the proposal would mean that Hungary abandons a key element of its media regulation approved in 2010.

In his letter Deputy Prime Minister Navracsics said the Government was ready to submit to Parliament proposed amendments on the appointment and term of the media authority head, on his or her appointment by the President and on including NGOs in the nomination process.

Secretary General Jagland, in response, said on January 29 in Brussels that the Council of Europe had ended the dialogue with Hungary about disputed points in the country's media regulation as the Government had given satisfactory answers to the concerns voiced by the pan-European organisation.

(Ministry of Public Administration and Justice)