Hungary’s last independent radio station is silent

Hungary's last independent radio station is silent

In the end it was a single significant voice over radio ether with considerable range. Now, Hungary’s Media Council, made up of supporters of the Prime Minister’s Orban, has revoked the license for Club Radio.

Due to international criticism and concern, Hungarian club radio was forced to cease broadcasting on Monday night. The government-dependent media authority had not renewed the broadcast license, which expired at 00:00 on 15 February, for reasons that were difficult to understand. The last important independent radio station in the Central European Union country reached 500,000 listeners.

After the conclusion of broadcasting operations, Clubradio can only offer its programs on the Internet. Therefore it should reach far fewer people than before. Since the right-wing national chief assumed office Viktor Orban In 2010, the private broadcaster was regularly subjected to repression from the media authority. Since then, among other things, they have only been allowed to broadcast in the greater Budapest region.

Politically motivated license withdrawal

The Media Council, the executive body of the media authority, is particularly biased to the Orban government. Last September, the board no longer renewed licenses for Club Radio. It justified its decision with two minor violations of the broadcaster’s reporting obligations, which at the time were punished with small fines.

The media authority used the FM 92.9 MHz radio frequency for the tender. Klubradio reapplied. The two previously unknown contestants submitted insufficient documents and were therefore excluded from the tender. One of the applicants filed a complaint against it in court, where the authority suspended the licensing process.

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Klubradio, for its part, filed a lawsuit against the renewal of the broadcast license. However, the Budapest City Court did not uphold the suit last Tuesday. The Administrative Senate agreed with the Media Council’s decision without a detailed examination of the legal basis.

EU threatens Hungary to act again

Prime Minister Orban has come under international criticism because he has already taken control of a large part of the Hungarian media landscape. The forced end to club radio triggered a new wave of objections and concerns.

The European Union Commission on Saturday called for and threatened an interim solution for club radio Hungary With a breach process. “I would like to call the Hungarian authorities to take immediate action,” the EU Ambassador to Hungary, Tibor Stelbaczki, wrote to Roberto Viola, the Director-General responsible. It is important for club radio to avoid “irreparable damage”.

The US State Department wrote last Wednesday: “The US shares many concerns about the decline of international media sentinels and media freedom in Hungary.”

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