EFJ Alarmed by Closure of Hungarian Opposition Radio Station

Today the European

Federation of Journalists expressed its outrage at the recent closure of the well-known

radio station Klubrádió, and calls on the Media Authority to apply

international standards on pluralism and media freedom, and to take into

consideration Klubrádió’ s unique position when allocating licences.

"
The decision to take away Hungary’s well-known politically engaged

Klubrádió's frequency is clearly another political purge," said EFJ President Arne König. "The

move is a sign that Hungary’s new model of media regulation is undermining

media pluralism and freedom of expression in Hungary. We believe the Media Authority must demonstrate that

its regulatory decisions are being made independently of political inclination.

Klubrádió is mainly talk radio, a format well suited for discussions about

important matters in a democratic society.  Now the change goes in the direction of entertainment and avoiding necessary

debate of the important issues in society.”

 

On

December 20, the Hungarian Media Authority reassigned the frequencies of Klubrádió's

Budapest stations, removing one of Hungary’s only remaining independent

stations from the airways with effect from 1st January 2012. Its licence went

to an unknown new company's programme (Auto

radio).

Klubrádió, a characteristic voice of the political opposition, has some 500

000 committed listeners, who also financed the channel through individual

donations - thousands of people "bought" twelve minutes of

programming time for 12,000 forints each in support of the station.  Klubrádió, which has been on air since 2002, sued

the media authority in the past for removing a frequency previously used by the

station.

Károly Tóth, President of the major EFJ affiliate in Hungary, the Hungarian

Association of Journalists, said “that according to the present media

legislation, the decision of the Media Authority is legal, yet it deeply hurts

media pluralism and the free expression of opinions”.

Together with other media freedom watchdog groups the EFJ calls on the EU

and the Council of Europe to monitor the developments of this frequency

competition and to put pressure on the Hungarian government to protect media

pluralism.

Earlier this week, the Hungarian Constitutional

Court vetoed part of the media law for violating the constitution by limiting

press freedom. Under the media law, radio stations must devote at least 25 per

cent of airtime to Hungarian music. Hungary has only two private radio

stations, and three public radio stations. The five-member Media Authority,

consisting of members from the Hungarian Prime Minister’s Fidesz party, has the

authority to fine radio stations for unbalanced coverage and in some

circumstances to ban public subsidies to media outlets.

 

The EFJ is the European group of the International

Federation of Journalists.
The EFJ represents over 260,000 journalists in over

30 countries.
For more information contact the EFJ at +32 2 235.2200