The European Union executive has urged the Hungarian government to allow a liberal-minded radio station to continue broadcasting after it went off the air on Monday.
Klubrádió stopped broadcasting at midnight Sunday after a court upheld a decision by media authorities not to extend his broadcast license.
During a European Commission online press conference on Monday, spokesman Christian Wigand confirmed that the executive had sent a letter to Hungary’s permanent representation in Brussels on Friday expressing concern about the move.
Wigand said that the station’s loss of transmission frequency had occurred “on the basis of highly questionable legal reasons”, and that Hungary “should respect the EU charter of fundamental rights, including the rights to freedom. of expression, information and the freedom to do business “.
The Commission has called on Hungary to take urgent action to ensure that Klubrádió, a commercial broadcaster in the capital Budapest, can continue to use its frequency until final decisions are legally binding, Wigand said, warning of “irreparable damage” to the station.
Hungary has not yet sent a response to the Commission’s letter, the spokesperson added.
But Balázs Hidvéghi, a member of the European Parliament for the country’s ruling Fidesz party, explained that the media must respect the rules.
“Frankly, Klubradio, as well as other radio stations or media have to respect the law and operate according to the law in Hungary,” he explained to Euronews.
“The media authority has not automatically renewed the frequency of this radio station because they broke some of the regulations that they should have respected.”
The Communication sent by the Berlaymont comes after more than eighty MEPs sent yours Ccommunication to the Commission last Friday, asking it to act on media problems in both Hungary and Poland.
The letter’s lead author, Laurence Farreng, told Euronews that: “We cannot let this battle for the rule of law down. I believe that everything we can do must be done. Therefore, I am closely following the action plan of the media that was proposed by the European Commission.
“In this media action plan, media pluralism, freedom of expression, media recovery is at the heart of the project. So, I think there is a point where we can act to ask for more freedom and more funds for the media, “said the French MEP.
The loss of Klubradio’s broadcasting license reinvigorated the debate on freedom of the press and enormous political influence on the Hungarian media market.
The liberal-leaning commercial station was one of the few remaining opposition radio voices in Hungary and one of the last radio channels to regularly feature opposition politicians and other critical voices during their news shows and interviews.
Last Wednesday, the European Commission denounced the decision, saying the move “raises concerns” about “media freedom and pluralism” in Hungary.
Klubrádió president Andras Arato last week quoted authorities as saying the station had “broken the rules” when the media lost its license.
Arato denounced Tuesday’s decision as “a shameful decision”, raising new concerns about press freedom in this European Union country.
He told Euronews that he planned to appeal to Hungary’s highest court, the Curia, promising that his media would continue online and that listeners were “enthusiastic.”
“They will not silence us, and if they also want to support us, we will try to do our bit to be able to live in a better world,” he said.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism