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The facts about the Hungarian Klubrádió and the leftist accusations regarding the freedom of the press

The Left has been raising concerns about the freedom of the press in Hungary, accusing Orban´s government of “dictatorship” and censorship for the past couple of years. It is, of course, quite ironic that the same Leftist politicians NGOs, and media who are complaining about the freedom of the press, while on the other hand are the first to support all kinds of “hate speech” legislation or censorship of opposing views. One of such latest cases, which the Left used to once again point finger at Hungary, and talk about the supposed “dictatorship” is the case of Klubrádió.

But, as usual, the facts are quite less dramatic. Klubrádió´s loss of frequency was not politically motivated. What the leftist media in Europe doesn’t report is that this radios station has enjoyed the rights to the frequency free of charge since 2011. The cause for this hysteria of the Left is that after various violations, which the radio in question doesn´t deny, it cannot keep the rights to the frequency automatically anymore, but has to participate in an open competition with multiple other applicants for the right to continue to broadcast on that frequency.

The reason for this is not “oppression”, but a decision taken by the independent Hungarian court in complete accord with Hungarian and EU law. What really bothers them is that they are not above the law. According to the Act and Media Services, based on the EU law, Hungarian law could choose not to allow automatic renewal of rights to a frequency at all. But the law in Hungary does provide for renewal upon request and sets two conditions for accepting it: the media provider cannot be in arrears with the media service provision fee and must refrain from violations.

The rights to Klubrádió’s frequency were not renewed, because it breached the regulations set out by the Act on Media Services twice within a 12 months period prior to submitting their request. In fact, they have committed seven violations in the past seven years. The law clearly states that “Said rights shall not be renewed in the event that the rights-holder (…) repeatedly or severely violated the provisions set forth in this Act”. The radio did not dispute its violations, even though it was clear that they form a big legal obstacle concerning the automatic renewal. Because the radio repeated some of its violations the Media Council had no choice but to deny Klubrádió’s request for automatic renewal. Klubrádió also submitted an application to the open tender where they found themselves competing with two other market entities. Its application was accepted, while the other two were denied. However, the other two entities lodged an administrative appeal against the decision to deny their applications which, in accordance with the law, forced the suspension of the tender until the appeal is resolved by the courts.

The facts are that the current legal situation is that violations committed and not disputed by Klubrádió precluded the automatic renewal of its frequency rights. The new tender that was announced for the frequency that they have successfully applied for is suspended due to legal action taken by their competitors. Despite all of the above, the radio station will not “go silent,” it will continue to broadcast on the internet in an unchanged format.

A. S.

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