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Is Klubrádió winning?

March 2nd, 2012

A left wing commentator welcomes a court decision which upholds the validity of a broadcasting license won by the left-wing talk radio, and cautions the Media Authority against filing an appeal.

The municipal court of Budapest ruled that the broadcasting license won by Klubrádió under the previous government for the new 92.9 frequency, which was not recognised under the present government, was indeed valid. In December 2010, NMHH’s Media Council refused to sign a broadcasting contract with Klubrádio, on the grounds that it was already broadcasting on another frequency. That previous contract, however, expired in February 2011 and has been periodically extended ever since. In a recent tender, the Authority sought a music radio to broadcast on the commercial 95.3 frequency which Klubrádió has used for 10 years. Klubrádió lost, predictably, to an unknown rival.

Klubrádió’s fate has created major diplomatic problems for the Hungarian government(See BudaPost). US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton openly urged Prime Minister Orbán to guarantee that the opposition radio station will not be closed down.  The case is also on the agenda of Hungary’s sensitive talks with the European Commission.

In Népszabadság, Imre Bednárik welcomes the court’s ruling as evidence that even the Media Authority cannot strip a successful bidder of its license. Nevertheless, Bednárik contends, Hungarians must still fight for press freedom and Klubrádió’s struggle for its frequency is becoming “a symbol of that struggle”.  He recalls that in his answer to the Secretary of State of the United States, Prime minister Viktor Orbán wrote that the Media Authority had done everything to keep “that important media outlet” alive. If the authority does not want to contradict the Prime Minister, Bednárik warns, it should not appeal against the court verdict, which would then automatically come into effect.

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