In a op-ed published on euronews.com on May 10 and written by András Arató, president and majority owner of the Hungarian radio station Klubrádió, the author regrets that the loss of his station’s broadcasting license indicates that “Hungary is turning into a semi dictatorship.”
While I could list many facts that point in the opposite direction, for example, that the media considered liberal and openly critical of the government still enjoy a larger audience share on television, online and in print, I, unlike the Mr. Arató, I’ll stick to the matter at hand: why did the Hungarian National Media and Infocommunications Authority (NMHH) deny Klubrádió’s seven-year broadcast license renewal in the first place?
You see, the owner of this radio station missed some important facts.
In a ruling issued on February 9 by the Budapest Court, the court confirmed the decision taken last September by NMHH to deny the renewal of Klubrádió’s license on the 92.9 MHz Budapest frequency.
According to the ruling, Klubrádió’s license expired on February 14. Critics of the decision have tried to hide its details, but the ruling is fairly straightforward.
Specifically, the court noted that Klubrádió, on no less than six occasions in the last seven years, violated broadcasting rules and was fined twice for violations of “no lesser degree.” One of these six infractions included unauthorized broadcasting in 2014. The court found that considering that the radio station never appealed these decisions, they have become legally binding.
According to the justification of the Budapest Court, the cases were serious enough to prohibit the extension of Klubrádió’s broadcasting license.
Political interests sympathetic to the radio station’s programming will of course point the finger at the Hungarian government, but a closer look at the laws and procedures in force, which are strikingly similar to the federal regulations of France and the United States. , will reveal that the government does not. they have the right, the will or the possibility to interfere in the legal disputes of private market players, the authority of the media or the courts. This, by the way, is what most would call the rule of law.
Furthermore, since the February court ruling, applications for the old 92.9 MHz radio frequency of Klubrádió were opened in March and, as the law does not impose any prohibition in this regard, Klubrádió became one of the three applicants, with possibilities to retrieve the relay license. However, NMHH once again rejected his request.
Exercising its rights enshrined in the Basic Law, the management of Klubrádió appealed the decision of the media authority to the Court of Budapest. Just last week, the Court issued its ruling, which once again confirmed the NMHH’s decision in March and concluded that Klubrádió’s application was legitimately dismissed.
According to the ruling, there were a number of shortcomings in its application, including the general problem that the radio station was in debt of HUF 400 million at the time of filing. This, together with multiple errors in the programming times, gave a substantial reason for the media authority to deny Klubrádió the broadcast license.
One would expect that the management of a radio station like Klubrádió could submit a request of this magnitude without major failures. But Arató and his team have not done it on multiple occasions.
Now, like the child who suffers the consequences of breaking the rules and then screams “That’s not fair!”, These media interests and their allies point to the Hungarian government and make outlandish claims about media freedom.
_Zoltán Kovács is the Secretary of State for Communication and International Relations of Hungary. _
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism