04 February 2021
04 February 2021
We, the undersigned partners of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) express our serious concern over today’s decision by a court in Budapest to reject the temporary license extension to Klubrádió in Hungary, warning it will have far-reaching implications for what remains of media pluralism and independent journalism in the country.
The MFRR stresses that this decision effectively consigns Klubrádió to broadcasting exclusively on the internet and represents a significant win for the ruling Fidesz party and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in their decade-long campaign to destroy one of the last remaining independent broadcasters which airs voices critical of the government.
Even if Klubrádió now wins its appeal against the Media Council’s decision to block its automatic license renewal, it will be prevented from returning to the airwaves due to the appeal process of a rival broadcaster over the tender, which could take years to conclude. During this time, it will be ensnared in legal limbo and will have no choice but to fall silent on 15 February.
The European Union cannot stand by as the country’s biggest independent radio broadcaster is wiped off the airwaves. We call on the European Commission to immediately engage with the Hungarian government to find a solution which will allow Klubrádió to remain on the airwaves after 14 February, at least until the ongoing legal dispute over the tender is resolved.
It is essential for the Commission to recognise that as with the fall of independent titles such as Index, Origo and Népszabadság before it, the situation facing Klubrádió has been carefully designed by Fidesz to give the administration plausible deniability in the station’s demise. It is likely to present Klubrádió’s fall as a decision made by the letter of the law, rather than one crafted by political forces.
The reality is that ever since the previous attempt to strip Klubrádió of its frequency in 2011 failed, Fidesz has, over a period of several years, lain the groundwork and created the necessary conditions to make it all but impossible for the station to remain on the airwaves, blocking all remaining available options for when its renewal was rejected.
Since 2010 Fidesz has stacked the Media Council with its own appointees, in contrary of EU Directive 2018/1808, to ensure Klubrádió would be penalised when the time came for its license renewal to be considered. Last year, the government then used its majority to amend the law on the provisional licenses to ensure they could not be granted during periods of ongoing litigation. Finally, the last refuge on the airwaves, DAB+ digital broadcasting, was discontinued by the government in 2020, sealing off the last available option for Klubrádió to remain on air.
The result was that when the time finally came for Klubrádió’s license to be renewed, its fate was all but sealed. Two minor infringements from 2016 were interpreted as “repeated violations” and justified to reject the station’s license renewal. Efforts to find a compromise have been flatly denied. Last ditch efforts by the opposition parties to find a solution that would save the broadcaster have twice been blocked by the ruling party in Parliament.
Hungary’s government is acting in direct contravention to Article 11 of the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights on freedom of expression and information. The European Commission must urgently address this issue with the government to find an immediate solution without which it is all but certain that Klubrádió will fall silent on 15 February, denying hundreds of thousands of listeners in greater Budapest access to a source of independent and high-quality news and information and sealing the fate of yet another independent media outlet in Hungary.
European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF)
European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
Free Press Unlimited (FPU)
International Press Institute (IPI)
Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT)
This statement is part of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), an Europe-wide mechanism, which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries. This project provides legal and practical support, public advocacy and information to protect journalists and media workers. The MFRR is organised by an consortium led by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) with ARTICLE 19, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Free Press Unlimited (FPU), the Institute for Applied Informatics at the University of Leipzig (InfAI), International Press Institute (IPI) and CCI/Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT). The project is co-funded by the European Commission. www.mfrr.eu
The partners of the MFRR express serious concern over the decision by the Fidesz-controlled Media Council to block the frequency license renewal of Tilos Rádió.READ MORE
Partners of the Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR) have published a statement urging the Czech Government to come good on its promises to strengthen the independence of public broadcasters and to seize the opportunity to put press freedom at the centre of its EU presidency programme.READ MORE
To mark Europe Day 2022, ECPMF joined an open letter to European Commissioners Vera Jourová, Thierry Breton and Margrethe Vestager to call on the Commission to take an ambitious approach to the European Media Freedom Act.READ MORE
The MFRR, together with Safe Journalists Network and RSF, have written to Mr. Besnik Dervishi, Commissioner for the Right to Access to Information and Personal Data Protection of Albania, calling for a thorough investigation into a recent private data breach and intimidation of journalists in Albania.READ MORE
The MFRR partners are concerned about the imposition of fines on two journalists and a news outlet in Estonia after they published information about pre-trial criminal proceedings without seeking permission or informing the prosecutor’s office.READ MORE
The Coalition Against SLAPPs in Europe (CASE) welcomes the European Commission’s anti-SLAPP initiative unveiled today which includes key remedies and safeguards needed in any effective anti-SLAPP legislation.READ MORE
|_mcid||1 year||This is a Mailchimp functionality cookie used to evaluate the UI/UX interaction with its platform|
|_ga||2 years||The _ga cookie, installed by Google Analytics, calculates visitor, session and campaign data and also keeps track of site usage for the site's analytics report. The cookie stores information anonymously and assigns a randomly generated number to recognize unique visitors.|
|_gat_gtag_UA_84831681_1||1 minute||Set by Google to distinguish users.|
|_gid||1 day||Installed by Google Analytics, _gid cookie stores information on how visitors use a website, while also creating an analytics report of the website's performance. Some of the data that are collected include the number of visitors, their source, and the pages they visit anonymously.|
|ahoy_visit||4 hours||This cookie is set by Powr for analytics measurement.|
|ahoy_visitor||2 years||This cookie is set by Powr for analytics measurement.|
|CONSENT||2 years||YouTube sets this cookie via embedded youtube-videos and registers anonymous statistical data.|
|s_vi||2 years||An Adobe Analytics cookie that uses a unique visitor ID time/date stamp to identify a unique vistor to the website.|
|VISITOR_INFO1_LIVE||5 months 27 days||A cookie set by YouTube to measure bandwidth that determines whether the user gets the new or old player interface.|
|YSC||session||YSC cookie is set by Youtube and is used to track the views of embedded videos on Youtube pages.|
|yt-remote-connected-devices||never||YouTube sets this cookie to store the video preferences of the user using embedded YouTube video.|
|yt-remote-device-id||never||YouTube sets this cookie to store the video preferences of the user using embedded YouTube video.|