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The wavering voice of the left

June 18th, 2011

The owner of Klub Radio is confident that his left-wing news and current affairs station will survive. As well as raising money from supporters, the station is gathering grass-roots support for its efforts to keep its frequency.

In an interview with Népszava, András Arató says the economic crisis has seriously reduced advertising revenue, and the outcome of last year’s elections has discouraged advertisers from buying air time in openly left-leaning media.

Klub Radio has now begun gathering small scale private contributions to finance itself and is holding a fund-raising concert on June 29 in Budapest. More serious still, the radio’s licence is about to expire and András Arató fears that the terms of the upcoming tender for the frequency the radio has used  for the past ten years will favour a music radio station instead.

Klub Radio was originally set up by the Hungarian Automobile Club in 1998 and was sold to Mr Arató and his associates in 2001, just before the 2002 parliamentary elections. Since then the radio station, with its distinctive zebra logo, has been a beacon for the left-liberal audience in Hungary.

On the eve of the last elections, in 2010, Klub Radio pushed for a new tender in the expectation that left-wing parties would be defeated. But there was no new tender, so Klub won another frequency, originally meant for Catholic Radio.

That contract, however, has never been signed and Klub Radio now risks losing its old frequency, without winning a new one.

Arató tells Népszava that he still hopes the alleged terms of the new tender are simply mistaken, and will be rectified. But whatever the outcome, he is confident that his radio will survive, though he does not make clear how.