Hungary’s Klubradio station forced off-air

Hungary’s last independent radio station, Klubradio, is expected to be forced off-air today. On February 9, a municipal court upheld

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Photo: AP Photo/ Laszlo Balogh

Hungary’s last independent radio station, Klubradio, is expected to be forced off-air today.

On February 9, a municipal court upheld the national Media Council’s decision to revoke Klubradio’s licence, ostensibly for minor infractions of the country’s strict media laws. In the past, the station has often aired views critical of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government.

Orbán’s media critics are habitually closed down or forced out of business, with eventual forced sales to the state or an Orbán ally. Those allies benefit significantly from government contracts that are rarely tendered out. Thus, today’s closure will likely be a continuation of a decade-long sidelining of opposition and independent media.

Klubradio has appealed to the Supreme Court to overrule the municipal court’s decision. While they have won previous court cases, the court’s ruling will likely favour the government as the new Chief Justice of the Court was voted in by Orban’s Fidesz party. Should Klubradio lose this appeal, expect it to seek a new licence—a protracted process that took two years of litigation and protests the last time their licence was cancelled. Klubradio’s demise would essentially leave Orbán’s government controlling 100% of public opinion—consolidating Hungary’s one-party state for the foreseeable future.

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