Top Hungary Independent Radio Forced Off Air: Station Head

A man protests the policies of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban during Orban’s talks with Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in Warsaw, Poland, on Nov. 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski, File)

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AFP) — Hungary’s leading independent radio station Klubradio said Tuesday it had lost an appeal to keep its license after the media regulator said it had infringed rules, raising new press freedom concerns in the EU member state.

“The decision, although expected, was shameful and cowardly. We will appeal at the Supreme Court,” Andras Arato, head of Klubradio, told AFP.

The station, whose news and talk content is often critical of the Hungarian government, will continue broadcasting online from Monday, said Arato.

Last September the media regulator NMHH said Klubradio, which broadcasts mainly in Budapest, had “repeatedly infringed” rules by twice submitting documents late.

The regulator refused to extend the station’s seven-year operating license, which expires on February 14.

Klubradio had asked the Metropolitan Court in Budapest to force NMHH to issue a temporary broadcasting license but said on Tuesday that its appeal had been turned down.

Klubradio and two other stations have also applied for the same frequency that was put up for tender by NMHH, but a decision is not expected for several months. 

Tuesday’s decision stokes new alarm about political pressure from Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s right-wing government on Hungarian independent media.

© Agence France-Presse

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