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Hungary's Last Independent Radio Loses Appeal On License, Forced Off Air

Content aired on Klubradio was often critical of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government.
Content aired on Klubradio was often critical of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government.

BUDAPEST -- Hungary's last independent radio station has lost an appeal to keep its license after the country’s media regulator said it had violated a compulsory registration law.

Klubradio President Andras Arato said on February 9 that its appeal at the Metropolitan Court in Budapest to force the media regulator NMHH to issue a temporary broadcasting license has been turned down.

"The decision, although expected, was shameful and cowardly," Arato said, adding that while the radio station stop broadcasting via the airwaves, it will continue its programming online.

Klubradio broadcasts mainly in Budapest. Its news and talk content is often critical of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government.

In September 2020, NMHH, comprised solely of Orban's supporters, refused to extend Klubradio’s seven-year operating license, which expires on February 14, saying the station "repeatedly infringed" on the compulsory registration law by twice submitting documents late.

Such violations usually incur fines and the NMHH's announcement raised new concerns about political pressure from the government on the media in Hungary.

Hungary was already under EU investigation for undermining the independence of the judiciary, media, and nongovernmental organizations, and risks losing access to tens of billions of euros in funds from the bloc.

The EU member state is ranked 89th out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ 2020 World Press Freedom Index.

With reporting by AFP
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