After today’s Hungarian court ruling confirmed Klubradio loss of its broadcast frequency in a hotly disputed decision by the country’s partisan regulatory body, AEJ Hungary has called for a Europe-wide show of solidarity to recover the popular station’s right to stay on air and defend media independence and plurality.
Statement by the Board of AEJ-Hungary on the court decision against Klubradio, Budapest, February 10 2021
Despite our high respect for laws, regulations and the due process of court decisions – being the essential parts of the judicial system of a democratic country – the Board of the AEJ’s Hungarian Section is deeply concerned because of the decision of the Metropolitan Court on February 9th, 2021. As a direct consequence, Klubradio will be deprived of the license required to broadcast through an allocated frequency from February 15th, 2021. The artificial legal battle began last September when Klubradio, the independent and practically the only oppositional national radio station in the country, sought to obtain an extension of its license. The Media Council, having no members from the opposition, rejected the radio’s application, and this was confirmed by the latest court decision.
The decision was depicted by Andras Arato, the President of Klubradio as “shameful”.
Due to the decision the radio station, which has tens of thousands of loyal listeners, will be muted as a conventional broadcaster but not on the Internet, where it will continue to broadcast its programs. Little more than one year before forthcoming elections in Hungary, which require a full spectrum of political views to be available to voters, the Board of the Hungarian Section of the AEJ strongly protests against the forced exile of the station’s programs onto the internet only. The intended effect is obvious: to shrink the space and possibilities for voices and programs independent and critical of the government and its policies.
Therefore we appeal for a demonstration of maximum Hungarian and international professional solidarity in favor of Klubradio. And we strongly support all legal efforts by the station’s management to require the Media Council to issue a provisional frequency license to continue its terrestrial transmissions while an appeal is taken to the Supreme Court.
We fervently hope that the proponents of media pluralism and the protection in law and regulation by media freedom and pluralism, as an essential and indispensable part of a free Western society, will prevail in favor of the rights of media consumers all over Hungary to access the media sources of their choice without political or other interference.
By the Board of the Hungarian Section of the AEJ