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Klub Radio off air, but on the internet – for now

February 11th, 2021

As the left-liberal radio station lost its court case against the National Media Authority on Tuesday, a liberal author accuses the government side of acting in violation of the principle of press freedom.

Klub Radio’s current seven-year licence expires on Sunday (14 February) and the Media Authority rejected its request to extend it for a further five years without a new tender. The Radio was late on two occasions in submitting reports, and the law excludes the automatic extension of licences in case of ’repeated infringements’. The radio took its case to court, but lost the lawsuit, because, as the court said, it had accepted both infringement rulings by the authority by not appealing against them, whereby the rulings had gone into effect and made a licence extension impossible. Meanwhile, Klub Radio appeared likely to win the new licence tender, as one of the three applicants withdrew, while the application of Klub Radio’s other competitor was rejected as formally invalid. But the loser appealed to the court against that decision, which means that the winner cannot be named until a series of verdicts and appeals end. Meanwhile, Klub Radio will only be accessible on the internet.

In Népszava, Péter Molnár, an early Fidesz member, then liberal MP in the 1990s, who is now a research affiliate on freedom of speech at Central European University, and a successful slam poet, suggests that elderly people will find it difficult to follow Klub Radio onto the internet. He remarks that the left-liberal station is particularly popular among Holocaust survivors, many of whom will feel offended by the ruling. Molnár refrains from blaming the court and excoriates the government instead, accusing it of drawing up legislation which allowed it to fill the Media Authority with its own people.