Hungarys largest independent radio station will be taken out of the air this Sunday. The broadcaster Klubradio, which makes many programmes criticizing Prime Minister Orbáns government, would have made “administrative errors”, such as the late mention of listening numbers.
The European Commission claims to investigate whether the forced closure of the radio station violates European rules. “We are in contact with the Hungarian authorities and will not hesitate to take action,” says a Commission spokesman. The existing concerns about freedom of the press in Hungary have only widen.
Klubradio has long been involved in a conflict with media awaakdog NMHH, whose task is to control news media for, among other things, “political balance”. For this purpose, the NMHH has received far-reaching resources, such as the search of editors and the imposition of fines on directors of media companies.
In 2013 Klubradios broadcast license was already withdrawn, but after protests the channel received a license for another seven years. It is not being renewed because of administrative errors which, according to the director of the station, have been taken out of the air. “The only goal is to silence critical sounds,” he says to Euronews.
Klubradio will continue its activities online. The station also wants to challenge the decision of NMHH before the highest court of the country.
Last Critical Sound
The Hungarian Journalist Union calls Klubradio the “last sound in Hungary not yet under the influence of Budapest”. When the transmitter is removed from the air, “the hegemony of pro-Orbán transmitters will be complete”.
The media landscape in Hungary has been drastically thinned down in recent years and largely taken over by allies of the Hungarian Prime Minister. Last year, an Orbán supporter took over the countrys largest independent news site, after which the lions share of the editors left.
In the ranking of Reporters Without Borders of countries with the most freedom of the press, Hungary ranked 23rd when Orbán came to power for the second time in 2010.
Within the European Union, only Bulgaria scores worse in the ranking. The Netherlands is among the top 5 of the international organisation with Norway, Finland, Denmark and Sweden.