Journalists face new restrictions in Hungarian Parliament
The rules governing journalistic work in the Parliament went through a complete overhaul for the autumn session of the Hungarian Parliament that began on Monday. Speaker László Kövér published the new rules that further restrict the activities of journalists working in the Parliament and in the offices of the National Assembly.
The new regulation expressly bans recording audio or video in the following places:
- The corridor surrounding the plenary chamber, and the corridors leading there,
- All restaurants and cafeterias,
- Areas where security equipment is located, such as the entrances,
- Areas maintained for the apparatus.
A number of areas will be off-limits not only to photographers and cameramen but to all journalists. The corridor around the plenary chamber will be completely inaccessible. The press room was relocated from near the plenary chamber to a floor below. From there, there are two routes to get to the main floor where the plenary chamber is located, however, even there, journalists are cordoned off from where politicians may appear.
Despite the increasing restrictions in the Parliament, the enforcement of the rules was so far rather lax in the Offices of the National Assembly, and press conferences in the lobby were regular occurrences, however, that is no more. There are now two small areas where journalists are allowed to take photographs or videos. We publish the picture below only to show the proportion of the area where journalists have to work - but we are not revealing the name of our photographer, as he took it standing in a forbidden area and, therefore, could get banned:
The new regulation also stipulates that interviewees have the right to refuse the interview or to walk away whenever they see fit, and journalists have to respect this - practically, if a journalist catches an MP in the Parliament or in the office building, the journalist is not allowed to question the lawmaker any further once he or she refused to answer.
The press office of the National Assembly informed us about the places where we can still make recordings:
- Balcony no. 10 in the plenary chamber (but only stills),
- Areas maintained for the press at public sessions of parliamentary committees,
- Press conferences,
- The office of an MP with their express consent,
- The northern parlour of the Parliament and a cordoned-off area nearby
- The press room of the Parliament and of the parliamentary groups,
- The cordoned-off area in the lobby of the office building,
- Other areas announced by the Parliament's press office, or in areas specifically approved by the press official.
How does that work in practice? We tried to interview a few MPs on the first day the new regulations were in effect:
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