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Western concerns over Klub Radio

February 12th, 2021

Reacting to misgivings expressed in Paris, Brussels, and Washington over the future of the left-liberal Hungarian radio station, commentators draw equally bitter but opposing conclusions.

In swift reactions to the court ruling in the litigation between Klub Radio and the Hungarian Media Authority, spokespeople for the French government, the European Commission and the US State Department equally expressed concern over what they saw as threats to press freedom in Hungary. Klub Radio has a daily audience of 100 to 200 thousand listeners in Budapest plus a few thousand on the Internet. From Sunday on it will only be accessible online, at least for a few months, pending a final court ruling (see BudaPost, February 11).

In an embittered column in Népszava, Miklós Hargitay accuses the European Union of impotence in the face of what he sees as blatant attacks on the free press in Hungary. He acknowledges that people can write freely but suggests that independent outlets do not reach large swathes of the population. The left-liberal commentator thinks the European Union should intervene by finding the government in violation of market rules, rather than making abstract political statements. However, he complains, the West only puts real pressure on the Hungarian government to protect its own interests. If Klub Radio were owned by a western company, he writes, powerful forces would come to its rescue.

On Mandiner, Dániel Kacsoh finds it absurd for President Biden to express dissatisfaction with a court ruling in Hungary. In a caricature of the intentions of the Hungarian opposition, he complains about the weakness of the European Union and welcomes the new US administration as a potential patron. Once American progressives have ‘eliminated domestic fascists’, the pro-government columnist writes in a hint at President Biden’s electoral victory, it is high time to rein in the Hungarian judiciary. An article in the Washington Post announcing concern over events in Hungary, is just a ‘first taste of what is to come’, Kacsoh writes sarcastically.

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