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EU States May Oversee Outside Broadcasts

(CN) - Hungary can monitor a Luxembourg-based broadcaster's compliance with its consumer-protection laws, the European Court of Justice ruled Wednesday, clarifying surveillance rules among EU states.

A subscriber complaint had led Hungarian authorities in 2010 to demand that Luxembourg-based broadcaster UPC provide information about a contract with one of its customers.

Hungary imposed a fine when UPC refused to comply, and the Budapest Municipal Court asked the European Court of Justice to clarify whether EU law empowers Hungarian authorities to look into UPC's business.

Hungary received that authorization, with limitations, from that court on Wednesday.

"The member state in whose territory the recipients of the electronic communications services are resident may make the provision of those services subject to certain conditions, in accordance with the provisions of that directive," the 18-page opinion states.

"In those circumstances ... surveillance proceedings relating to electronic communications services, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, will be subject to the authorities of the member state in which the recipients of those services are resident."

The judgment imposes detailed conditions guiding such monitoring and forbids member nations from forcing companies to set up a branch or subsidiary in their country that would impinge on their "freedom to provide services."

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