Parliament on Friday passed an amendment tightening regulations on political billboard advertising, replacing a law previously passed by parliament banning political billboard ads outside campaign periods that President Janos Áder had returned to lawmakers for reconsideration.
The amendment on the protection of cityscapes which only needed a simple majority to pass was approved with 123 votes in favour and 68 against.
The amendments in the law stipulate that organisations that receive direct or indirect budgetary support must pay the listed market price for political billboard adverts. Further, contracts on placing such adverts must be submitted to the relevant authority to be published on its website. The authority is charged with removing any ads placed unlawfully within two days.
The amended legislation applies EU standard public procurement rules in the case of any negotiation over listed market prices for outdoor advertising.
Under the law, a fine of 150,000 forints (EUR 485) will be levied for unlawful placement per billboard. The new regulation also covers ads placed on public transport vehicles.
The original bill on the financing of political ad campaigns failed last week due to the lack of a two-thirds majority. Parts of the law were then approved with a simple majority. President Áder returned this law to parliament.
The opposition Jobbik party’s group leader told a news conference that Jobbik would turn to the Constitutional Court over the law, which he said was an attempt by the ruling Fidesz party to silence Jobbik’s election campaign. János Volner, vice president and faction leader for Jobbik stated that “instead of a legislation requiring a two-thirds majority in Parliament, Fidesz is now trying to mute Jobbik’s outdoor media campaign by passing a bill needing just a simple majority.”
According to him, Viktor Orbán “being terrified of Jobbik, restricts the freedom of speech and expression by first pushing the opposition out of the state-owned public media and now from the outdoor media as well. In the meantime, Fidesz agency Civil Union Forum and the government are still allowed to flood the public discourse with their dishonest propaganda at discounted media rates to divert people’s attention from humiliatingly low wages and pensions, our destroyed education, our abandoned healthcare, the wrecked foreign currency debtors and our youth fleeing the country.”
Source: MTI, Jobbik.com