Orban-friendly Owner Gets Hungary Independent Radio Frequency
Budapest, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 11th Apr, 2021 ) :A Hungarian radio station critical of Prime Minister Viktor Orban that was forced off the air in February said Sunday its former frequency had been handed to a station owned by a government-friendly group.
Its fate has attracted international attention, with the European Commission and the United States expressing concerns that its disappearance from the airwaves will further damage media freedom in Hungary.
The NMHH media regulator had said in September that Klubradio repeatedly infringed administrative rules, and on March 30 awarded the disputed 92.9FM radio frequency to Spirit FM, whose owner is allied to Orban.
According to Klubradio station head Laszlo Arato, the media authority acted unlawfully by granting a temporary licence to Spirit FM despite ongoing legal proceedings.
"The owners of Spirit FM -- the ATV Group -- receive a lot of state advertising, it tries to maintains a veneer of independence but any opposition voices on its channels are strictly controlled," he said.
Arato said that Klubradio in pursuing two legal cases; one before the High Court over the denial of the extension for the frequency, and another suit at the NMHH claiming that the bidding process for the 92.9FM frequency proceeded unlawfully and is unfair.
Klubradio, which began broadcasting in the 1990s, had to fight a series of legal battles to stay on air soon after Orban's right-wing government came to power in 2010.
For several years, it operated on rolling short-term licences, which the station said made attracting advertisers difficult.
The powerful NMHH, whose heads are close to Orban's ruling Fidesz party, insists it is not politically driven.