Information about the case called “Ice-T gate”, for English language speakers

Ice-T Gate: National Media and Communications Authority contra Radio Tilos

In a letter dated 13th December 2010, the NMCA objects to an English-language song (performed by Ice-T) in a show on 2nd September 2010 (at 5.51pm). The reaction by Radio Tilos was written with the help of Dr Eva Simon, collaborator in the Freedom of Speech programme of the Society for Freedom of Speech (TASZ ). Éva committed her time to the radio over her family Christmas, so that the reply would be ready. We appreciate it a lot!

You may listen to the problematic part here (from 21min 06 sec):

A strange dialogue of sense and interpretation has started to take shape between the Radio and the Media Board, which is to make everyone with all its might comply with the forthcoming media law.

The letter of the National Media- and Communication Authority: (in Hungarian only so far):


Tthe radio’s answer in English:

Dear Content Monitoring Department,

Referring to your letter dated 13th December and received 21st December, we have the following observations:

It is to be noted that as a consequence of the date of the letter, more or less the period of the Christmas holidays were left for reflections, so we were obliged to consider the prospects of the official inspection you are referring to during the holidays, since according to the law CXL of 2004 on Administrative procedures (LAP) we have a period of 8 days to reply.

LAP 1 § (2) states „ while excercising its power, the administrative authority […] is obliged to procede according to the requirements of professionality, rationality and cooperation with the client. In case of a broadcast medium which has neither legal department, nor financial means, the indicated period constitutes a much greater burden than for a market-based broadcast medium.

At 5:53pm 2nd September 2010, the broadcast medium Radio Tilos (maintained by Tilos Cultural Foundation) broadcast two songs by Ice T: Warning (intro) and It’s on. The official inspection establishes that the broadcast medium violated sections 5/B. § (3) and %/C § (2) of the Regulations on Radio and Television Broadcasting. (RRTB)

5/B. § (3) The item which is capable of influencing the physical, mental or moral development of individuals under 16 in an unfavourable way, especially by implying aggression and sexuality in an indirect way, or if the determining element of its subject is a conflict solved by aggression, it must be classified Category 3. The classification of this item: not recommended for people under 16.  5/C. § (2) The items classified Category 3 may be broadcast with the adequate warning between 9pm and 5 am

The two songs under investigation are in English. Among the remarks of the investigation, the authority goes into a lengthy analysis of the number of language examinations in Hungary. It is to be noted that from the point of view of the songs in question, the number of successful German, French, Italian, etc language examinations is irrelevant.

Since the inspection is referring to RRTB. 5/B. (3), it would have been relevant to investigate the number of people under 16 who have the adequate knowledge of English to understand the songs to influence their physical, mental or moral development in an unfavourable way, and how many such listeners the radio has. This latter criteria is absolutely overlooked by the investigation.

Language competency

The investigation itself states that „We haven’t been able to find specific data on the knowledge of English language among people below 16, we have no knowledge of the competency of this age group. The investigation is established on a hypothesis that people under 16 speak and understand English in a significant number.

This hypothesis, however, is not supported by international comparative analyses, which states that the knowledge of foreign languages among the total (!) Hungarian population is far below the EU average. We are not in possession of reliable data on the knowledge of foreign languages among the population, because the surveys are based on individual declaration. According to the research referred to by the authority as well, among people who finished elementary school – this group contains a section of people below 16 and still attending secondary school – only 1,1 % has taken English language examination.

Based on the data above – which is also referred to by the investigation – the hypothesis cannot be sustained on the part of the authority, that individuals below 16 may understand English to such a high degree that they may understand hardly comprehensible lyrics, written in slang, full of words and expressions missing from their curriculum, after one hearing, in a musical environment.

The investigation itself admits on page 4 that „It is to be noted that understanding was made more difficult by the fact that the American rapper used colloquialisms in his songs, thus, in addition to information available in school, the proper understanding of these lyrics requires a high level of language competence, which probably no or hardly any listeners aged under 16 possess.

Ratio of Juvenile Listeners

A survey carried out in 2007, inquiring the listeners of Radio Tilos, showed the distribution of listeners according to age group:

Distribution of Listeners by Age (see the diagram in the Hungarian version)

It shows that only 4 % of the listeners are minors. Since the listeners’ survey took into account the age group from 13 to 18, we do not have accurate information on the ratio of individuals below 16, however, our experience shows that it is less the younger generation, but rather those entering adulthood who constitute our listener base. The same survey made an effort to estimate the total number of listeners. The probable number was established at a maximum of 5000 people for the most popular, morning talk show periods. Calculating proportionately from the accurately measured data on online listeners, based on a correlational estimate of data, at around 5pm, 2nd September the radio could have had a maximum of 1500 listeners, the 4 % of which is 60-65 people. Since this number refers to the age group between 13 to 18, the number of listeners under 16 could have been between 15-20. Based on the above data, it means that there could have been a maximum of 1 or 2 persons under 16 listening to the music, who has any kind of language examination.

The problematic elements of the disapproved songs

The investigation is referring to verdict 3.K.33902/2005/7. by the Budapest Court of Justice. The referred verdict is not available to us. It is not possible to search in the Archive of Court Decisions based on the reference number of the verdicts, furthermore, it is not in our knowledge whether the referred verdict is in the database at all. In a similar fashion, we are not aware whether anyone brought an appeal against the verdict, or has turned to the European Court of Human Rights. We do not know either how the practical interpretion by the legal predecessor of the authority (ORTT) relates to the whole text of the verdict. We are not aware either of the nature of the legal case in which the verdict was pronounced. Let us note that in Hungary there is no case law, therefore, reference to a unique decision brought by the Budapest Court of Justice does not in itself constitute grounds for legal dismissal of a broadcasting medium. The fact that the verdict is not publicly available, makes it impossible to react to this part of the investigation correctly.

The conclusion from the verdict arrived at by the authority, namely, that all other constitutional rights of freedom must give way to the healthy moral, mental and physical development of minors – does not comply with the criteria of constitutionality and decisions of the Constitutional Court.

Instead of constitutional rights of freedom the terminology of constitutional rights uses the expression fundamental constitutional rights. Fundamental rights do not have a defined hierarchy, except for the right to life, as an unlimitable fundametal right. It is beyond doubt that the freedom of opinion – as one of the many fundamental rights – may be limited in certain cases for the protection of minors, but it does not mean that freedom of opinion, or any other fundamental rights lose it to the protection of minors in all cases.

If the statement of the investigation were true, then for the protection of minors our fundamental right to life could be limited as well, which is luckily not the case.

Linguistic slackness

The investigation refers to „herding” minors „towards lingustic slackness”. Let us observe that regulations by RRTB. limiting freedom of opinion, like §’s 5/B or 5/C. do not give opportunity for limitations based on linguistic slackness. Limitation is allowed in case of unfavourable influence on the physical, mental or moral development of minors, and “linguistic slackness” does not belong in this group.

Up till this point, for over a decade, it hasn’t occurred that the authority would investigate and disapprove of the lyrics of a non-Hungarian song. Naturally, in the case of Hungarian songs we ourselves are taking care of our responsibilities because of the comprehensibility of lyrics, however, we haven’t been analyzing and translating the prosody of foreign language recordings. In these cases the music makers of the radio focus on the rhythms, instrumentation and melody of the songs. Let us request that if the investigation of foreign language songs is becoming a common practice with the authority, please inform us, regarding the fact that apart from English language songs, the radio broadcasts many songs in Spanish, Portuguese, French and German in the morning period, but many Russian, Serbian, Chinese, Hindi and other far-eastern songs are played, so we need to know how the authority is interpreting the law in this matter.

We consider the fact important that Radio Tilos has a traditionally familiar relationship with its listeners, with whom they keep in contact several ways, and who themselves are the strictest critics of the radio.  At the moment our listener mailing list contains 652 registered users, the majority of them intellectuals, many of them with families of their own.  Although they often present serious criticism against a given show on the mailing list, no one has ever criticized the lyrics of a foreign language song. The 12000-member Tilos Group on Facebook has never criticized anything of the like either.

At the designated time, 2nd September in the afternoon, there was no aggressive or rough content in the environment or the context of the disapproved recordings, for these are contrary to the philosophy of Radio Tilos anyway.

In our view the English language songs under investigation were not capable of influencing the moral development of individuals under 16 in an unfavourable way, therefore we respectfully request the Authority to establish that no violation took place on the part of the Broadcast medium.

Respectfully yours,

Gábor Csabai

Radio Tilos


some international links about the story:

Press coverage:

Music blogs:

Misc. sites:

non English articles: – en français – in het Nederlands – Norske – svenska – en français – Español – Malagasy het Nederlands – srpski – বাংলা

w języku polskim:,Na_Wegrzech_rada_mediow_juz_dziala.html

Planet Boelex liveact a Tilosban!

2010. április 15-én, csütörtökön 15 órától 16:30-ig a Tilos Rádió vendége a finn Planet Boelex (ejtsd: bóulex), akitől egy liveactet hallhattok majd, megközelítőleg háromnegyed órában. Egy kis ízelítő:

A Planet Boelex egy 2004ben alakult elektronikus-zenei projekt Finnországból. Egyetlen tagja, Ossi Peltonen, egy autodidakta, trackereken tanult zenész, aki a 90-es évek közepén kezdte pályafutását. Első megjelenése, a “Sinking in the Soup” EP 2005-ben a Monotonik netlabel gondozásában jelent meg, Creative Commons licensz alatt. E debütáló megjelenéssel alakult ki Planet Boelex saját zenei stílusa, amit legjobban így lehetne jellemezni: kellemes, dallamos elektronika, IDM, ambient és egyéb stílusok enyhe behatásaival.

Planet Boelex több mint 5 órányi ingyen letölthető zenét adott ki azóta különböző netlabeleknél mint például a Kahvi Collective és a Soft Phase. Közös EP-jük jelent meg Lisa’s Antenna együttműködésével, valamint számos válogatáslemezen is hallhatóak zenéi. Kilenc különböző európai országban voltak fellépései többnyire elektronikus zenei fesztiválokon, és most Magyarországon is hallható a Tilos Rádióban, valamint a Hármashatár-hegyen rendezett The Surround Planet rendezvény chill helyszínén, vasárnap reggel.

A liveact előtt beszélgetünk majd az április 17-én, a Hármashatárhegyen tartandó The Surround Planet party szervezőivel. A rendezvény érdekessége egy valódi 6 csatornás hangrendszer debütálása, amelyen hajnal 2-től 5 óráig egy ténylegesen 6 csatornára kevert set fog szólni.

Hasznos linkek:

Planet Boelex hivatalos weboldal
Planet Boelex myspace oldal
Planet Boelex facebook fanpage

3Dj pres: The Surround Planet – 2010.04.17. fórumtopik, információk a rendezvényről weboldal – KILL THE STEREO
Hármashatár-hegyi Hangár
Facebook event

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