Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has robustly defended a controversial media law that has attracted widespread international condemnation, saying he was ready to fight for the legislation.

Budapest has come under fire from media and rights groups, as well as European governments, for the legislation, which came into force on 1 January, just as Hungary took over the presidency of the European Union.

Under the law, a new authority, headed by a close ally of the prime minister, has the right to impose major fines on media outlets and force journalists to reveal sources on issues related to national security.

The Prime Minister said: 'I accept the battle, even as my opponents in Hungary and Europe are plotting their campaign. I am used to headwinds ... from the period of opposition under the communist regime.'

Mr Orban said he would 'not accept special regulations for Hungary. We will not allow rules that other EU countries have for their media to be forbidden us in Hungary. If there are enough reasons to enact such a law, then you have to go through with it.'

Following an international outcry that has cast a shadow over Hungary's assumption of the rotating EU presidency at the start of the year, the prime minister said Budapest might amend the law if Europe demanded it.