Brussels slams suspension of Hungarian radio station
BRUSSELS — The European Commission on Wednesday denounced the suspension of Hungary’s leading independent radio station and urged authorities to allow it to keep broadcasting.
“We have expressed our concerns about media freedom and pluralism in Hungary… the case of Klubradio only aggravates these concerns,” said Christian Wigand, a spokesman for the commission.
“We are in contact with the Hungarian authorities to ensure that Klubradio can continue to operate legally.”
Wigand said the commission “was looking into the implications of this decision on EU law or whether relevant EU rules have been respected and will not hesitate to take action if possible and necessary.”
Klubradio lost an appeal Tuesday to keep its broadcasting license after Hungary’s media regulator said it had infringed administrative rules.
The station, whose news and talk content is often critical of the Hungarian government, vowed to continue broadcasting online from Monday.
In September, Hungary’s media regulator NMHH said Klubradio, which broadcasts mainly in Budapest, had breached rules by twice submitting late documents about its output.
The regulator refused to extend Klubradio’s seven-year operating license, which expires on February 14.
The station accused NMHH of discrimination for overlooking similar infringements in other licensing decisions and appealed to the Metropolitan Court in Budapest to force the body to issue a temporary broadcasting license.
The removal of Klubradio from the airwaves has fuelled long-standing worries over press freedom under authoritarian leader Viktor Orban, and drawn condemnation from the United States.
In recent years most independent outlets in Hungary have either gone out of business or been bought by government allies while receiving lucrative flows of state advertising.
State-run media outlets, meanwhile, have been accused of turning into government propaganda organs.
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