22 December 2011
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