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EC, Hungary head to court over cable

Clause violates European Union TV regulations

BUDAPEST — The European Commission is taking Hungary to court for failing to pass regulations opening up the broadcast industry to cable networks.  

The EC will argue its case in the European Court of Justice, focusing on parts of Hungarian media law that prevent cable operators from transmitting programming to more than one-third of the nation’s TV households.

This clause, the EC said Thursday, violates European Union TV regulations and should have been abolished by May 1, 2004.

According to the EC, Hungary’s restrictive regulations hamper the development of cable services that offer TV programming, broadband Internet and telecommunications in a single package.

Hungary’s socialist-dominated coalition governments have tried to amend the law twice but failed to get the necessary two-thirds support in parliament.  

The Socialists have been unable to reach a consensus with Hungary’s conservative opposition over the media law, and Budapest analysts do not believe cross-party consensus will be possible any time soon.